Klug Receives New Liver & Returns to World Cup
Aug. 10, 2000 – Nearly two weeks after undergoing a liver transplant brought on by the rare, degenerative liver diseaseprimary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), Olympic snowboard racer Chris Klugof Aspen is recovering in expectation of a return to the U.S. SnowboardTeam as early as September.
“We’ve been really lucky so far. Everything has gone really smooth,”Klug said from his room at the Holtze Hotel in downtown Denver. “Thereis still a chance of a few bumps in the road, but we’re definitelythrough the worst of it.”
Klug, 27, underwent five hours of surgery at Denver’s UniversityHospital on July 28 as his weakening liver was exchanged for adonor’s healthy replacement. He spent four of the seven years he hasknown about the disease on a transplant waiting list.
Since the transplant, Klug has been actively rehabilitating on astationary bike and light workouts.
“We’re through the hardest part now,” he said. “It’s really just amatter of rehabbing myself as if I had a knife wound. I won’t be mystrongest in time for training camp in late September, but hopefullyI’ll be ready for the first World Cup at Tignes, France, inNovember.”
Klug will continue daily visits to the hospital for about another weekas doctors test for signs of organ rejection and balance thedosage of anti-rejection medication he will take for the rest of hislife. The risk of rejection diminishes every day, he said.
“It’s a miracle, I tell you,” Klug said. “Every morning, I feel a littlebetter. I’m a little stronger, a little looser.”
Klug’s sights are set on the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. Afterfinishing sixth in Nagano, he wants to reach the top of the podiumand spread the word about organ donation a la Lance Armstrong on cancerawareness.
“One of my goals is to increase organ donor awareness. Colorado is a lotbetter than other states, but there is still room to improve,” Klugsaid. “After I win my gold, I’m want to have livers coming off conveyerbelts.”