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Kaslo woman represents Canada at World Transplant Winter Games

The event is for athletes who have undergone organ transplants
Kaslo’s Colleen Tilley celebrates winning a gold at the World Transplant Winter Games in Bormio, Italy. Photo: Submitted

A Kaslo woman has returned home after competing in a unique international event for athletes who have received organ donations.

Colleen Tilley was among seven Canadians to take part in the World Transplant Winter Games, which ran March 3 to 6 in Bormio, Italy. The 12th annual Games are held to honour organ donors and their families.

Tilley received a liver transplant four years ago. While she was recovering from the surgery in Vancouver, Tilley read an article about the Games that stuck with her.

“I’ve always been a skier. I’ve been involved in sports all my life. I thought this would be really cool to check this out. It was for a good cause and exciting to me.”

The Games feature ski, snowboard, cross-country, biathlon, snowshoe and curling competitions. Bormio is also set to be a venue for 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Tilley, 64, won three gold medals and a silver in alpine skiing events, or a third of the Canadian team’s medal haul. But she also competed in curling at the request of the team, which was short one curler.

She credited Kaslo Curling Club’s coaches with helping her prepare prior to the Games. Tilley said she wasn’t out of place on Team Canada, which ended up finishing fourth in curling.

“The whole thing is participation. And you don’t have to be an expert to participate in the Games.”

The results are also secondary to spreading awareness about organ donation. Signing up to be a donor, she said, is a quick process that can save a life.

It saved hers when only one month after being told she required a new liver, Tilley was in surgery.

“The main thing is to create awareness that transplants are out there, to be an organ donor and to promote the need for organ donation.”

But the medals are nice, too.

For information on how to register as an organ donor in B.C., visit

Colleen Tilley was among Team Canada athletes who participated at the World Transplant Winter Games in March. Photo: Submitted

Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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