For those who are able to represent their country in any competition, it is a moment of immense pride. It means even more for those who represented Australia at the World Transplant Games, held in Perth last month. All competitors were either the recipients of an organ donation or a living organ donor. Among the Australian contingent was Harvey-raised swimmer Marina Martella. She said she was “very fortunate” to be able to compete in her first games in Perth. “It was beautiful to see so many people full of gratitude in one place at one time, to hear their stories and being able to relate their situation was warming,” she said. Martella competed in four swimming events, representing Australia in the 50m and 100m freestyle alongside the 50m and 100m breaststroke. She finished fourth in the 100m freestyle, fifth in both breaststroke events and sixth in the 50m freestyle. Martella said she was “excited to make the distance”, with her performance a stark turnaround in fortunes from just a few years ago. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just before her 16th birthday, several complications over the resulting years led to a diagnosis of end stage renal failure in May 2015. She started dialysis treatment soon afterwards, living a poor quality of life which would see her forced to quit her job and struggle to do basic things. Martella was placed on the waiting list for both a kidney and pancreas transplant, and after two false starts received her transplant in March 2018. She described it as a “second chance at life”. “Being an organ donor recipient is an emotional roller coaster, knowing what my donor family would’ve been going through and coming to terms with when I received my call,” Martella said. “Since the transplant I’ve got a new lease on life and I am almost back to my old self. “You can’t put a price on what my donor family has given me - I am forever grateful.” She was one of three competitors representing the town at the games alongside heart transplant recipient Rob Newby and living donor Julie Moloney, who gave a kidney to her daughter. Martella encouraged more people to register to be an organ donor, but noted the importance of telling those closest to you about your decision. “It is something to talk about with your family, let your family or next of kin know what your final wishes are,” she said. “Without the generosity of donors a lot of us wouldn’t be here today celebrating life.” The week-long games, which aim to promote organ and tissue donation, attracted 1500 competitors from 50 countries. For more information, visit donatelife.gov.au.