The 2021-22 Executive Board

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Colette Jordan
President

Colette Jordan, Lisle, a long-serving member of Team Illinois, co-founded our 501c3 nonprofit in 2011. Colette served as treasurer for three years and has handled most of the team logistics for the past four Transplant Games. A liver transplant recipient [Nov. 1, 2006, at Northwestern], Colette hopes to bring her many years of experience as a licensed social worker and transplant advocate to the leadership of Transplant Life Illlinois.

 

Colette first became involved with the Games in 2008 (Pittsburgh). “I went to honor my anonymous hero donor for the gift of life and help showcase the success of transplantation,” she says. “I was hooked.” She has since met and remains close to the family of her hero donor Tom Kaiserauer. “I created a quilt square honoring Tom,” Jordan says. “What an incredible experience it was to be at the Opening Ceremony as the quilt was carried into the Stadium by donor family members while crowds were cheering on Team Illinois!”

 

Colette has competed in six Transplant Games and one international games, winning her first gold medal in doubles bowling in 2016. She also excels in corn hole, darts, table tennis, and team volleyball. You may reach Colette at jordan.colette@gmail.com

John Kachanuk
Vice President/Team Manager

John Kachanuk, Havana [Illinois] recently retired as chief of the Havana Fire Department. John also serves as manager of Team Illinois TGA. A tissue recipient, John has been an advocate for organ and tissue donation for years, representing Allograft and Gift of Hope as an ambassador.

 

John has competed in two Transplant Games and was the team’s only bone graft/tissue transplant recipient to compete in Salt Lake City. A runner all his life, it was actually weightlifting that first put John in the hospital 15 years ago. On and off battles with back pain and in his lower legs eventually led to spine fusion surgery Feb. 8, 2013, at Methodist Hospital in Peoria (now Unity Point).

 

“I had horrible back pain that wouldn’t allow me to do much other than get comfortable,” he says. “I loved doing anything physical – yard work, house renovation, weight lifting and running.” Doctors told him that his pain would be gone and with it his active lifestyle. Instead, Kachanuk overcame the odds: He competed in his first-ever Tough Mudder, a hardcore obstacle race that challenges the toughest of athletes. John’s email address is j.kachanuk@havanail.gov.

Susan English
Secretary

It's been more than 30 years since Susan English was a college student, but that time in her life will stand out as the beginning of a long journey to good health.

 

As a freshman she became hospitalized with elevated liver enzymes and lost 40 pounds. She recovered, but years later, she was diagnosed with giant cell hepatitis, which had caused some cirrhosis of her liver. Over the next 20 years Susan battled moderate hepatic encephalopathy, suffered a spontaneous splenic artery aneurysm, endured extended stays in the hospital and rehabilitative care, and sat on the wait list for a new liver three times. Finally in August 2013, English received her gift of life at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

 

Happy to be returning for her fourth Transplant Games, Susan competes in swimming and team trivia. Read more about her 2018 medals here. Susan can be reached at Susanpenglish@hotmail.com.

Leah Howell
Treasurer

Leah Howell currently serves as Director of Learning Design at Everspring, Inc., transitioning to this role after nearly two decades of direct experience in post-secondary education. She completed her Ph.D. in Educational Studies, with a focus in Developmental and Learning Sciences, at the University of Cincinnati where her research focused on the intersection of identity development and high-risk alcohol use. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family Studies & Psychology from Central Michigan University.

 

A two-time kidney transplant recipient, Leah’s journey with kidney disease began in seventh grade with pyelonephritis.  In 2002 she began dialysis, something that had previously been explained as a very distant possibility.  In 2003, she got the call – a 6-point antigen match!  Five days later, she left the hospital and on day seven, she returned, losing the transplant.  Then in 2004, she got the best birthday gift ever – the gift of another donor kidney – the Gift of Life.  And “Joey” has been with her ever since.  Learn more about her transplant journey.

 

Leah is looking forward to competing in her first-ever Games in 2022 and helping TLI with its mission to show the world that transplantation enhances and saves lives. You may contact Leah at leah.howell625@gmail.com.