NFT in Australia for World Transplant Games!

August 24, 2009

Brian Barndt began fundraising with NFT in 2005. After receiving a heart transplant in July of 2005, he has gone on to lead an active life as a teaching professional for total immersion swimming. Read Brian’s post below about his upcoming participation in the 2009 World Transplant Games in Brisbane, Australia. You can also learn more about Brian by visiting his blog, “Heart2Swim.”

Well, the title is partially true. I am in the Gold Coast with Team USA to swim in the World Transplant Games against the best transplant athletes in the world. However, I would not be in this position without the support of NFT in my life, both pre and post-transplant. NFT’s impact continues to this day.


As my family began the process of waiting for the phone call that could save my life in June 2005, we had to decide how to raise enough money to not only pay for my surgery and recovery, but also the years of expenses to follow. This was an arduous task, considering I was dying from heart failure after living with cardiomyopathy for 15 long years. NFT offered me wise counsel and great resources to set and reach our goal of $35,000. We were fortunate to have Connie Gonitzke as our advisor/coach during the fundraising. We met the goal!

Now, after four years of good health, I have been blessed to swim for Team NC at the 2006 & 2008 U.S. Transplant Games, winning seven gold medals and setting four American records. This year, I have the honor of representing Team USA as an elite transplant athlete, swimming with transplant recipients from 50 different countries. I will compete in five individual events: 50 & 100 meter backstroke, 50 & 100 meter breaststroke, 400 meter freestyle, as well as both the men's medley and freestyle relays!

I will compete in Brisbane, Australia on August 26 and 27. As I ponder this upcoming experience, I am humbled to be in this situation. There were many dark and frightening days during my illness, when my wife and two daughters were not sure if I would survive much longer. Therefore, I am filled with gratitude for the countless people who helped lift me to a position where I can strive for a gold medal at the World Games. NFT has played a pivotal role in making this dream a reality.

Swimming for life,

Brian Barndt
Visit Brian’s blog at for updates during the World Transplant Games!