A Seventh-day Adventist pastor from Victoria, Australia, has won two bronze medals at the 2023 World Transplant Games.
Pastor Fraser Catton was among 150 athletes in Team Australia competing in the Games, held April 15-21 in Perth, Western Australia. He won both medals in tennis—one in the men’s singles and the other in doubles.
“It was pretty special to represent Australia and come away with something to show for it,” said Pastor Catton.
“The atmosphere was certainly competitive but also very encouraging and supportive. At the end of the day everyone was there to push themselves and celebrate organ donation.”
Competing at the Games for the first time was an incredible experience for the Burwood Adventist Community Church pastor.
“What made it unique was what we all had in common,” he said. “Talking to some other athletes, there was a reverence and deep appreciation for being there. We were there because someone else had volunteered to donate an organ—some as living donors and others as registered organ donors.
“There was a moment in the opening ceremony where, after all the 60 participating nations had entered the stadium, the living donors and donor families entered. The athletes all stood as one in applause and for five minutes showed their gratitude at what those incredible people and families had given. It was deeply moving and beautiful.”
Having lived with kidney disease most of his life, Pastor Catton underwent a kidney transplant in early 2022.
“I knew dialysis and hopefully a transplant would take place eventually,” he said. “That arrived a little earlier than expected but God provided in some pretty incredible ways through family and friends during that time.”
Being given a new chance at life is something which the father-of-three will forever be grateful.
“We read about being given a new heart of flesh,” he shared. “My understanding of that has deepened considerably. While I didn’t receive a heart, I did receive something equally as life giving in a functioning kidney. And the process was long, at times painful, slow and required me to rely, sometimes completely, on other people. There was actually very little I could contribute to the process apart from accepting it and living a new normal. But that new normal is beautiful!
“There were many people who supported this journey. My wife and girls, parents and extended family, my church family and friends and my donor and their family. They all deserve gold medals!”
Needless to say, Pastor Catton is a keen advocate for organ donation.
“When you sign up as an organ donor you have the chance to impact not just one person or their family but future generations,” he said.
“I have met transplant recipients in their 80s who have been able to have families, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. None of those people would be alive were it not for an organ donor. So organ donation really does change lives.
“I know that this is a sensitive subject for some. However, I would encourage people to consider their final gift. If we believe we are called to make disciples and that requires hearing and responding to Jesus, then people deserve that chance. Your donated organ could allow someone the extra years of life to have a chance to hear about Jesus. That’s worth signing up for.”