When Robert Juneau was just two years old, it was a known fact he would one day need to have a lung transplant. What wasn't a known fact was that 37 years later, he would be traveling to a foreign country to participate in World Games.
Like most cystic fibrosis patients, Juneau, 40, of Marietta, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just a toddler. The progressive genetic disease causes abnormally thick and sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and pancreas, causing serious lung infections and digestive problems, and life expectancy for adults with the illness is 35 years old.
When Juneau's case started getting worse in 2005, he was put on a waiting list for a double lung transplant at Boston Medical Center in Mass. In March 2007, after waiting 13 months, Juneau was finally able to have a successful transplant.
"I really felt a whole mix of emotions," Juneau said. "You're excited because you've been waiting so long for a transplant, but you're nervous because you're not sure of the outcome."
He said his wife, Mary Juneau, was a big part of his struggle as well as recovery from surgery, and also his success at the Games, which she attended with him.
Before Juneau's surgery, he had told Mary that it was his goal after the surgery to be able to play one of his favorite games: table tennis.
It was Juneau's nurse at Boston Medical Center that introduced him to the World Transplant Games. Every two years the Olympic-style games are held in different countries around the world. The National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games are held in "off" years.
"When I did well in table tennis at the U.S. Games, Mary and I agreed that it would be good to go to the World Games," says Juneau.