Wayne puts his heart into the World Transplant Games

Wayne in front of a pool at the World Transplant Games

Wayne Broady has been given a gift — and he’s thankful for it every single day.

In November 2017, having just enjoyed a regular swim with friends at Hornsby Pool on Sydney’s Upper North Shore, Wayne had a lifethreatening heart attack. It would change his life.

“At the time I just thought it was indigestion or something like that,” Wayne said. “I felt faint. I had a couple of mates with me and I must have been drifting in and out of consciousness. They called an ambulance and I was taken to North Shore Hospital. I had no idea what was happening or the seriousness of what was happening.”

Wayne’s myocardial infarction—the medical term for the heart attack he suffered—could easily have been fatal. He spent several days on life support in intensive care before being moved to Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital for more intensive care and specialist treatment. It was there the doctor’s first mentioned a heart transplant to Wayne and his wife, Anna.

After a couple of more months in hospital, and time at home recovering and building up his strength, Wayne had his heart transplant on Good Friday, in March 2018.

“I had a few complications, so I remained in hospital for roughly two months afterwards,” Wayne said. “I had to learn how to walk, eat, everything, because all your muscles waste away from being so long in intensive care.”

Capricorn Member Wayne—a mechanic who ran his own workshop until 2011 and was working for Barrie Auto Electrics in Hornsby at the time of his heart attack — said he had considered himself relatively fit at the time. He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink very often, had a good diet and exercised regularly. He wasn’t what many people might think of as a likely candidate for a heart attack.

In the years since his heart transplant, Wayne has kept up his commitment to a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise.

“I’m probably as fit as I was before the heart attack but my endurance is not there anymore,” he said. “I no longer have the capacity to continue, continue, continue, whereas before it didn’t worry me.”

In April this year, Wayne competed in the World Transplant Games, which were held in Perth, Western Australia. It’s the world’s largest awareness-raising event for organ and tissue donation and saw about 1500 participants from more than 50 countries come together to compete in 17 different sports over seven days, in a celebration of life, through sport.

The Games, which are held every two years, are open to recipients of solid organ transplants, including heart, liver, lung, kidney and pancreas transplants, as well as those who have received bone marrow transplants. The Games are all about honouring donors and encouraging transplant recipients to be fit and active.

“Just getting to the Games was my aim. I don’t call it competing; I just wanted to complete the event,” Wayne said. Wayne took part in five swimming events—the 50 m, 100 m and 200 m freestyle and the 50 m and 100 m breaststroke.

“I was quite happy with my 50 metre freestyle. I think I got fourth. I improved my times because in January I did 47 seconds and I think I got about 35 seconds in the Games,” Wayne said. He received bronze in the 100 m and silver in the 200 m freestyle.

“I enjoyed it, but the main thing was getting to meet other people who have had transplants,” Wayne said. “Everyone’s been through their own journey and you get to hear those stories. I think the main thing is everyone is there to have a bit of fun.”

The Games is strongly focused on making sure the organ donors are remembered alongside the recipients, with several events organised to honour donors, attended by the families of donors as well as recipients.

“It’s something you have to think about every day,” Wayne said. “Some days more than others. In a way, I sort of get two birthdays every year because of it. So, my thoughts go out to those families who have given people like me a second chance (through organ donation). To be given the opportunities I have been given just because someone ticked a box to say, yes, they’re going to donate, is just amazing.”

Wayne said he also thought of those transplant recipients who aren’t able to take part in events like the World Transplant Games because they are struggling with the effects of the medications or from complications with the transplant.

“They are the warriors,” he said.

Wayne said his reason for attending the Games was to show what he could achieve, simply by not giving up. “My three words when things are getting me down are: resilience, appreciation, achievement,” he said.

Wayne encourages all Capricorn Members and their families to register to become an organ and tissue donor.

“Have a conversation about organ donation with your family,” he said. “When you tick that box, you can make a huge difference to someone else.”

This article was published 17/07/2023 and the content is current as at the date of publication.