Three-time U.S. Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug has been winning on the slopes since before some of his competitors were born. But a rare disease almost took away the 37-year-old's Olympic dream and life, making him an outspoken supporter of organ donation, Voice of America reports.
In the early 1990s, Klug was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), a rare degenerative liver condition that requires a transplant. He waited for six years on the transplant list and in early 2000 his health deteriorated.
"When I was on the waiting list in 2000, there were 84,000 people in the U.S. waiting for solid organ transplants, and about 15 died each day waiting. You know, at one point I thought I was going to be one of those 15," said Klug.
Klug decided that if he could pull through, he would help others in need of organ donations. After finally receiving a new liver from a young boy who died in a gunshot accident, the snowboarder started the Chris Klug Foundation with the goal of promoting life-saving donations and including the quality of life for donors, recipients and transplant candidates. He went on to become the first Olympian to compete after undergoing an organ transplant.
Klug's Donor Dudes events educate young people about organ donation and encourage them to share their decision with others. On Saturday, Klug will compete in the men's parallel giant slalom snowboard event.