WEST VIRGINIA (WBOY) — Back in November of 2000, a pre-employment physical at the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg led to Greg Sabak being diagnosed with essentially an enlarged heart after numerous tests.
Sabak had different heart problems pop up left and right for nearly 16 years.
“I was slowly progressing health-wise downwards until the point where they did everything they could,” Sabak said.
He couldn’t do the things he enjoyed anymore like skiing, bowling or traveling. His options left him waiting to get a heart transplant to get his life back to normal.
Sabak’s luck turned around in 2016.
“I received a call from Allegheny General Hospital from one of the general hospital coordinators and they said, ‘hey great news we got you a heart,'” Sabak said.
The great news led him to receive a heart transplant on July 24, 2016. Not only did Sabak get a new heart, but his life back.
“If it’s not for the donors, I wouldn’t have had this second chance and I wouldn’t be able to attend the games and I wouldn’t experience what life has to offer,” he said.
Sabak credits his support system for getting him through all of his adversities.
Through a transplant support group, Sabak found out about the Transplant Games of America, where people who donate or receive organs can compete in close to 20 different sports.
He participated in his first Transplant Games of America at Salt Lake City, Utah in 2018. Sabak didn’t just participate, he dominated.
“Being the first time, I figured well maybe I’ll get lucky and win a medal,” he said. “Well, I actually ended up winning three.”
Sabak won gold in Texas Hold Em’, silver in doubles bowling and bronze in singles bowling at that competition.
This is the first year in-person for the event since the pandemic. It is being held in San Diego, California.
For this year’s competition, Sabak is eager to race in a 5k, as well as play singles and doubles bowling, darts and Texas Hold Em’. He is just one of two people from West Virginia competing in the event.