A Herndon man who received a kidney transplant from his mother four years ago has won his second set of gold medals in cycling at a national athletic competition for organ transplant recipients in Minneapolis.
By day, Lou Lamoureux, 32, is a regional sales manager for an electric bicycle manufacturer. But he spends his spare time training and competing as an amateur cyclist. In 2002, two years after his kidney transplant, he won gold medals in both the 1K time trial and 20K race in the 30-39 age group. Last weekend he repeated the feat as a member of the National Kidney Foundation's Team Nation's Capital.
Lamoureux said he began riding not long after he was diagnosed with a form of kidney disease in 1986. Cycling helped lower his blood pressure and reduce swelling, but his need for a new kidney grew urgent.
His mother, Donna Lamoureux, was first in line to donate. "She didn't think, she knew" she would be a match, Lou Lamoureux said. She was so certain that she wouldn't allow Lamoureux's sisters or father to even be tested.
The transplant was performed at Inova Fairfax Hospital in September 2000. "Once I got the new kidney, I felt like Superman," Lamoureux said. "I felt like I could run a marathon."
Watching television during his recuperation, Lamoureux saw a program on the cycling Race Across America, sort of an American Tour de France. "I can do that," Lamoureux said he thought to himself.
Within nine months, he had ridden a tour across the country, averaging 130 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing a day. He is still training for the Race Across America, which covers 400 to 500 miles a day and goes coast-to-coast in nine days.
Lamoureux also went back to college at the University of Maryland to get a masters degree in business administration and began riding competitively with Maryland's cycling team. That launched him into other cycling competitions.
After winning his age group at the 2002 U.S. Transplant Games, he traveled to France for the World Transplant Games, where he placed in the top 10 in the 5K time trial and the 20K road race. Other competitors included recipients of hearts, livers, lungs, pancreases and bone marrow, National Kidney Foundation spokeswoman Lesley Heilman said.
"I was lucky," Lamoureux said. "When I started getting sick, my mom was able to donate for me. There are 86,000 people that aren't so lucky and 55,000 on the list waiting for a transplant. We don't need this kind of shortage. Just about anybody can donate."
More than 2,000 transplant recipients from 50 states competed in 13 events last weekend, and this year marked the 50th anniversary of the first successful kidney transplant, Heilman said. Former National Basketball Association star Sean Elliott, a 1999 kidney recipient, and television star Larry Hagman, a liver recipient, were among the 11,000 spectators.
An average of 17 people die every day while waiting for a transplant, according to the National Kidney Foundation. The transplant games also serve as a tribute to the 4,000 donors annually who provide an organ to someone in need, Heilman said.
For more information, including how to become an organ donor, call the National Kidney Foundation at 202-244-7900 or visit www.kidneywdc.org.