George Keulen, 30, recently cycled 235 kilometers (146 miles) over two days, an accomplishment by any standard. It’s even more extraordinary when you consider that just two years ago, Keulen underwent a double lung transplant.
In 2010, Keulen, who was born with cystic fibrosis, had been waiting 18 months for a matching organ donor. He spent much of that time in the hospital.
Keulen, a member of Ladner (British Columbia) Christian Reformed Church, said his faith in God and the prayers of his family and church gave him the hope he needed to keep going while he waited for his transplant. Although he must take anti-rejection drugs twice a day for the rest of his life, he added, “I consider my transplant to be a miracle.”
Keulen is putting his new-found health to good use. The two-day cycling event in June was part of an annual ride organized by Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Keulen’s family and friends sponsored his ride to the tune of $9,000.
Keulen said he participated in the event to help raise the profile of this largely forgotten disease and to demonstrate the benefits of organ donation. He went on to explain that many people are unaware of how devastating this disease can be. “It robs children of their youth, because so much time is spent in the hospital. Finding a cure is crucial.”
Keulen rode in memory of his cousin Erin Luymes, who died of the same disease in 2003 at the age of 19.
Not content to rest on his laurels, Keulen also participated in cycling events at the Canadian Transplant Games in Calgary, Alberta, in July before returning to his studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.