Jacqui and Colin Church are competing at the 2017 World Transplant Games in Malaga, Spain.

Jacqui and Colin Church always have a special birthday for Colin's kidney, Mork, which originally belonged to Jacqui.

Named after the popular 1970's television sitcom Mork and Mindy starring Robin Williams, Colin received the kidney from his wife in 2014.

Now three years later, the Port Waikato couple are ready to compete at the World Transplant Games 2017 in Spain. 

The couple will be amongst 12 New Zealand representatives at the biennial event which will be held in the Spanish port city of Malaga this month.

More than 2200 athletes have registered for the 2017 games representing 54 countries.

Three years ago, Jacqui, who is a Waikato District councillor,  donated one of her kidneys to Colin who was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in his late 20s.

After Colin's health started to deteriorate, the couple knew he would need a transplant to save his dying organs.

Colin and Jacqui have been married for 25 years and have two children.

The kidney transplant provided the family a new lease on life, Jacqui said.

"Rather than an incapacitated, chronic sickness life you get a whole new chance at life really."

Although it was difficult to talk publicly about Colin's health and transplant, Jacqui said it was important to raise awareness.

She understood transplants were not for everybody.

"I just want people in their families to have the conversation with each other."

The before and after of Colin's transplant, Jacqui said, was proof of how transplants changed lives.

"As a person I don't have stresses in my life now compared to what they are when you have someone sick in your family that you love."

Colin paid tribute to the hard working doctors and donors who helped to save the lives of transplant patients.

"It is a journey - everyone's process is different, and you have your highs and your lows."

Since Colin's transplant, the couple has met many other people on their travels who have had transplants.

Last Christmas, they met a Canadian couple on holiday in Paihia who were cycling around the country.

"You share your stories because you can kind of understand what they've been through," Colin said.

Jacqui, who will compete in the games as a donor, said it was humbling to be a part of the transplant community,

"Everyone we've met whose had some sort of transplant are really respectful and humble and thankful for their donations."

Colin will compete with Jacqui in a number of different events including golf, pentaque, shotput, a 5km walk and discus.

Events such as the transplant games helped to show transplant patients they could still lead full lives, he said.

"It's about showing people can lead an active, pretty cool sort of life and do some of the things they certainly couldn't do before they had a transplant."


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