The Talk of Vancouver from USA Today

February 25, 2010

As essential to Chris Klug as his preparation time on Cypress Mountain was the stop he planned Wednesday afternoon in downtown Vancouver.

At Vancouver General Hospital, the liver transplant recipient turned Olympic snowboard medalist talked about the importance of organ donation and the role it has played in his life. That, along with boarding, has become his passion. Klug, 37, has become a tireless transplant advocate, authoring a book, setting up a foundation and making full use of the platform his sport affords him.

Saturday, he'll compete in his third Olympics — and second since his transplant in 2000— in the men's parallel giant slalom. "It certainly highlights the heroes organ donors are," he says.

Klug became the first transplant recipient to step onto an Olympic podium in Salt Lake City eight years ago, taking bronze in the PGS event. He was only 19 months removed from the operation that implanted his new liver, necessary after the Aspen, Colo., boarder was diagnosed with the same rare degenerative bile duct condition that claimed the life of football great Walter Payton.

Klug, who takes anti-rejection drugs twice daily, is ranked 40th in the current overall World Cup standings, though that's up from 73rd and 85th the previous two years. "I'm healthier and stronger," he says, "than I ever was before."

This article is from the USA Today.