Strange Boat - Organ Donation Awareness

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One Man's Courage Gives Hope

German born Ivan Klasnic became the first player ever to take part in the European Football Championships after a kidney transplant, and completed his stunning recovery, scoring to give Croatia a 1-0 win over Poland.

klasnicIn the quarter finals against Turkey he scored the only Croatian goal in the final seconds of the match. However, in the last kick of that game Turkey scored the equalizer and subsequently won the match on a penalty shootout (3 - 1).

In January 2007 Ivan Klasnic suffered kidney failure and later that month he received a kidney transplant from his mother Sima, but soon it was reported that his body rejected the new organ. In March 2007, he underwent surgery to replace the rejected kidney, this time receiving a kidney from his father. The second transplantation was a success, and Klasnic was elated when doctors told him that he "would be able to continue playing football."

However in August 2007 the doctors at Werder Bremen forbade him to train due to inability of his body to withstand heavy physical strain. But in September 2007 doctors finally allowed Ivan Klasnic to attend full training after he was absent for about 6 months. He then joined the team and made a couple of appearances in the club's cup activities and also appeared in a few matches for the second team.
On November 24, 2007, he was selected to start for Werder for the first time since December 2006, and played 65 minutes for his team in a Bundesliga match against Energie Cottbus. Klasnic completed his comeback on December 15, 2007, scoring twice in Bremen's 5-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen, playing 85 minutes.

In March 2008, Ivan was recalled to the national Croatian team after a year of absence becoming the first player ever to participate at a major tournament after a kidney transplantation. Klasnic, who wears a fibreglass shield to protect him on the field, is one of a small number of professional athletes to return after an organ transplant. Without the protection, a kick could prove life-threatening.

When Klasnic, playing his first match at Euro 2008 came onto the pitch for the Group B game against Poland he received a thunderous reception from Croatian fans. He continued to delight both fans, his team mates and management as he showed tremendous courage, determination and commitment to his team and his country.

"I'm happy that I'm here at all," Klasnic said. "As I said once, this is like a bonus from God. It's like a dream. I thank God that I'm alive and that I can play football."

 

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