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After lifesaving kidney transplant, Mt. Miguel High graduate competes in Transplant of America games

Xavier McLeod is competing in the Transplant Games of America for the third time.

SAN DIEGO — Xavier McLeod is competing in the Transplant Games of America for the third time. He is so grateful because his life wasn’t always easy.

"I like to play my drum and I practice my drum on the weekends," said McLeod.

The 18-year-old Mount Miguel High School graduate has experienced life to the beat of his own drum not only as a former drum captain, but also a star at track and field.

"I love track and field and I love running. I love long distance and getting my energy up," said McLeod.

As his mother, Valerie James, will tell you, it was a long road to get here.

"Xavier was born with a condition that damaged both of his kidneys and his bladder. At just one and half years old, he went on a transplant list. He had 10 hours of dialysis each night and a feeding machine for his nutrients," said James.

After a year and a half on the transplant waiting list, Xavier got a life saving call. 

He was three-years-old when he received a kidney from 17-year-old Sam McCrow. McCrow died from a brain aneurism after surfing in Mission Beach. 

"No one can do what Sam McCrow did on that day which was save my baby's life and two families became one," said James.

"I'm very grateful he gave me a second chance. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be standing here competing and having so much fun," said McLeod.

Now, McLeod is competing in the Transplant Games of America at UCSD, a celebration where hundreds of transplant recipients from across the globe compete in athletic competitions. 

"I love when the wind is blowing in your face and you are just focused on beating your time," said McLeod.

He won a silver medal in the 800, 1500 and high jump. He also won Gold in the mixed 4x400, but he says it’s not about the medals, it’s about celebrating a second chance at life.

"I love being out here. I enjoy it," said McLeod. 

The Transplant Games of America continues until Wednesday. McLeod says he can’t wait to compete in the games again. 

WATCH RELATED: Transplant Games of America | How a mother's love and donation saved her son's life (August 2022)

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