Winning Attitude On and Off the Court

A lifetime of healthful living and athleticism couldn’t help World Transplant Games medalist Jill Morton, B.B.A. ’82, outrun the chronic kidney disease that had plagued her family for generations.

The mother of two was dying when, after two years on a waiting list, she heard about a possible donor—in Australia.

“She just decided to reach out to someone she doesn’t know,” Morton recalls. “She did it basically for God, for goodness, to show that she’s really giving back in life.” The women were a match.

“When I woke up from my transplant, my fingers were pink,” Morton says of her 2003 surgery at the Mayo Clinic. “I hadn’t seen that in years. My energy came back because my red blood cells started to come back.”

A year later, she began competing in the U.S. Transplant Games. A top tennis player since childhood, she won three gold medals in the sport. Her donor, with whom she says she’s now “the best of friends,” flew in from the outback to cheer her on.

Morton also lived to see both of her sons grow up. The younger one, Michael, even followed her footsteps to the University of Miami, where he’s a senior exercise physiology major who plans to attend the Miller School of Medicine.

Not one to sit idle, Morton used her hours in doctors’ waiting rooms to study for her CPA license. In January she launched her own consultancy in Coral Springs, Florida. She also pursued another dream: competing in the World Transplant Games. This past June in Sweden, she won gold in tennis and 20k cycling, silver in the 800-meter run and Team USA relay, and bronze in the 3k race for the women’s 50-59 age group.

“I don’t stay focused on being a kidney transplant recipient,’” explains Morton. “I take what I have of my new life and make the most of it. People are inspired by my story, and that just leads me to the next step. I want to continue to inspire others and promote organ donation.”

Robin Shear