'I feel bad for the lake honestly,' liver transplant athlete trains for swim across Lake Ontario
LONDON, ONT. -- After winning gold medals and breaking records at the World Transplant Games, transplant athlete Jillian Best is ready for her next big challenge, swimming across Lake Ontario.
"This will be the longest swim I have ever attempted...It’s a pretty cool thing to show other transplant recipients and the public what we’re capable of doing.”
In August of this year, Jillian Best will be swimming the 52-kilometre journey in hopes of raising money for the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).
“We want to make sure everyone who needs a transplant, can get one.”
Best was an athlete and swimmer for most of her life, but she also faced health complications above the surface.
In 2015, doctors told Best that her liver was failing and that she would need a last-minute organ transplant to live.
“It was very challenging mentally, physically I was in a really bad spot. It was a lot of ups and downs, I lost a ton of weight, I lost all my muscle mass, I struggled.”
After months of uncertainty, Best received her life-saving transplant, a procedure her own mother underwent in 2004.
“(Mom) was able to get through that and I saw her strength and I think that's what gave me hope…After my transplant I got back in the pool, I started to train and I haven’t been out of the water since.”
In August, Best plans to be back in the water, starting the 52-kilometre swim starting in Niagara Falls and finishing in Toronto.
Best is currently applying for the proper paperwork to follow COVID-19 protocols.
All money raised will be collected by Best’s foundation, Move for Life, that supports those affected by organ transplants.
"How is she going to do in August? I feel bad for the lake honestly, she’s going to rip it up!” says Brad Tilson, treasurer for the Move for Life Foundation.
The proceeds will help to purchase equipment for organ donor patients at LHSC, says Best.
“We want to donate the money to help them purchase a piece of equipment that can increase the donor pool for organs that can be used for transplant, therefore being able to do more transplants and save more lives.”
The team is looking for sponsors and donations. To find out more, click here.