John Kachanuk is retired chief of the Havana (IL) Fire Department and has previously served on the board of Transplant Life Illinois, including a stint as Team Illinois TGA manager.
John received the gift of tissue during spine fusion surgery in 2013 and has been an advocate for organ and tissue donation for years, representing Allograft and Gift of Hope as an ambassador.
A runner all his life, it was actually weightlifting that first put John in the hospital almost 20 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, John overcame the odds: he competed in his first-ever Tough Mudder, a hardcore obstacle race that challenges the toughest of athletes. John has competed in two Transplant Games and was the team’s only bone graft/tissue transplant recipient to compete in 2018 in Salt Lake City.