BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Surgery is scheduled for a former LSU track star who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. He said it was made possible through support from friends and strangers, and an unlikely donor.
When Gabriel Mvumvure is on the track, he is home. The decorated sprinter earned three all-American honors on LSU's relay team and was named SEC and NCAA Champion in 2008 during his freshman year. But the LSU graduate's dreams came true last year when he qualified to represent his native country Zimbabwe in the Olympic Games. He placed seventh in the 100-meter competition. But his celebration was cut short. Two months after he returned, doctors told Mvumvure his kidneys were failing. He would need a transplant.
"The needles really hurt, and they have to stick two of them in me every time I do dialysis," Mvumvure.
For Mvumvure that has meant three days a week for over four hours a visit while he saved up enough money to get put on a waiting list for a new kidney. When he is not hooked to a machine, you'll likely find Mvumvure on the sidelines of the LSU track where he volunteers as an assistant coach.
"I would say it's therapy, in a way, and just like when they are victorious you feel like you've won yourself again," Mvumvure said.
Mvumvure's winning attitude has no doubt helped him get this far. Doctors said the chance of someone outside of his relatives, who live in South Africa, being a match for a kidney transplant was only nine percent. But in August, he got the answer to his prayers. Doctors found a match, his high school sweetheart, now fiancée, Rumbi Muskwe.
"It's humbling, just that, even though I'm a match I had nothing to do with it. It's everything that God had planned for us," Muskwe said.
"She was crying. I was numb. I just didn't know what to say, what to do. That moment, it felt so good that finally, you know the journey I started is now coming to an end," Mvumvure said.
Mvumvure and Muskwe, who also share the same birthday on February 23, are scheduled for transplant surgery in New Orleans on October 30. The LSU Tiger Athletic Foundation has helped them raise just over $21,000, but they need $40,000 to cover medications and post-operation care. The surgery means Mvumvure will get to finally travel with his team and start chasing bigger dreams off of the track.
"It's relieving to know he gets to have that chance," Muskwe said.
It also means the couple will be able to finally make the trip home to Africa where they plan to be married.
"It's such a selfless thing to donate. I am honored to be able to be her fiancé," Mvumvure said.
Click here to visit Mvumvure's GoFundMe page.