World Transplant Games Federation

Shillane’s Story

My name is Shillane Labbett and I am a 38 year old double lung recipient. I was born with Cystic Fibrosis and was originally given five years to live.  With the help of good care and good doctors I was able to get to the age of 33 with my old lungs.

By the time I had reached thirty, my lungs were rapidly deteriorating. On a good day my lung function was 30% and the subject of transplantation was discussed frequently. Talking it over with my husband Simon and my Mom, in time they finally convinced me and I began six monthly assessments. 

Then on 25th September 2004 when I was on vacation in Nova Scotia, I developed massive haemoptysis, which is haemorrhaging of the lungs. They estimate that I coughed up two litres of blood before I was rushed to the hospital in Halifax and put on oxygen permanently. Once back in Kingston, after a two week stay in the hospital, the transplant team determined that I should be added to the list. So my Mom, who was my support person, and I moved to Toronto to begin the wait and embark on the exercise rehab program for the six to eight months they said it would take before I would probably get a transplant.

In the first week of waiting, I had another major haemoptysis and I was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and put on a ventilator. I was given priority on the list and after ten days in Intensive Care, I was given the incredible news that a set of lungs had become available. The first thing I wrote on my notepad was that I felt sorry for the family of the donor.  On 24th February 2005, I got my new lungs!

After two years with my new lungs I joined the Ontario East Transplant Support Group, a group who raise awareness and provide support for those pre and post transplant, as well as donor families.  Through this group I found out about the Canadian Transplant Games  in Edmonton and how it was such an incredible experience.  The 2008 Canadian Games were in Windsor, so we decided to go!  It was just as they had described; a wonderful experience where everyone had an inspiring story.  I competed in Lawn Bowls, 10 Pin Bowling and Table Tennis. 

With my experience in Windsor, we figured the World Transplant Games would be great too so we decided to attend the Games on the Gold Coast in 2009.  With the help of some local sponsors and the Ontario East Transplant Support Group we headed to Australia for the Games. I only competed in two events this time: no Table Tennis as I had found in Windsor that the calibre of the competitors was much higher than myself – a beginner.

I am hoping to compete in future Games and I have also been training so perhaps I can compete in some more high impact sports. So, Quebec City – Here I come!! I would love to attend the World Transplant Games in Sweden in 2011 as well, although I will have to come up with some capital first.