Utah liver transplant surgeon who needed organ himself touts Transplant Games

SALT LAKE CITY -- This week’s edition of Gift of Hope features some irony.

Dr. Terry D. Box is a top liver transplant surgeon, who learned he himself needed a liver transplant.

Kind, caring and empathetic, Dr. Box became a donor recipient when he needed a new liver in 2002. Since then he has participated in the Transplant Games.

“The real positive that happened.... has been the acknowledgment of donor families that occurs,” he said. “…I’m so thrilled the people of Utah have an opportunity to participate. Every one of them who can should come to the opening ceremonies on August the second. They will not regret a moment of it.”

Going through the same operation his patients have has given Box a unique understanding of what they experience.

"I can identify with people as they go through some of the complications of being a transplant recipient, and I think it just helps relieve their anxiety that their doctor has been through this,” Box said.

This year thousands of people from around the world will come to Utah for the Transplant Games. Patients, doctors and family members of transplant patients come together to celebrate life.

“The opening night of the games is the most moving thing I can think of,” Box said.

Doctor Box is an avid biker. He's done two relay rides across the U.S. with transplant providers in an effort to promote organ donation, but he's also diligent about his health to honor his donor.

“My feeling about my gift is that I have I borrowed it, and that I am responsible for returning it to its rightful owner in as good of a condition as I got it,” he said.

This year the Transplant Games will open in Salt Lake City on August 2 at Smith's Ballpark. You can learn more about the event here.

To become an organ donor in Utah, you just need to say “yes” on your driver’s license or state ID card. You can also learn more or sign up by clicking here.

It’s also a good idea to let your family know of your decision so your wishes can be carried out.