T H E E D M O N T O N S U N • T h urs d a y , A u g ust 3 , 2006

life sty le 4 7

EDITOR: Sally Johnston

PHONE: 468-0115

FAX: 468-0139 E-MAIL: sjohnston@edmsun.com

A smashing success
lrich Simonsmeier has a good beanshaped reason why he doesn’t take his health for granted – the kidCARY CASTAGNA ney his brother donated to him 24 years ago. For the kidney transplant recipient, striving to stay healthy became a way of life after he suddenly found himself face-to-face with his own mortality. “I appreciate my health now,” says the 52-year-old St. Albert resident, who knows he has to look after his body if he expects his body to look after him. “If you’re not healthy, it’s over.” The German-born Simonsmeier was just 22 and living in his homeland when his kidneys began to falter. It was a seemingly innocuous cold that activated the congenital defect, sending the two vital organs on a debilitating downward slide over the next six years, he explains. At 28, his kidneys eventually shut down altogether and he was forced to undergo dialysis for the next six months. “It’s a terrible time to find out you’ve got a terminal illness,” he recalls. “The most difficult part was knowing that I was ill.” Fortunately for Simonsmeier, his brother stepped forward and gave him the gift of life. And the grateful organ recipient has made sure not to squander that gift. In fact, he’s done pretty ‘If you’re not healthy, well for himself. The CEO of Cybernius Medit’s over.’ ical Ltd. – a St. Albert-based company that offers a compu– Ulrich Simonsmeier terized medical records-keeping system for renal care facilities around the world, Simonsmeier manages to find the time to keep active. Up to three times a week, he plays soccer through the Edmonton and District Soccer Association. He also hits Edmonton’s Royal Glenora Club for thrice weekly badminton sessions. And if that’s not enough, Simonsmeier, who holds dual citizenship in Germany and Canada, has competed in five World Transplant Games across the globe – winning a fair share of medals in the Olympics-style event that’s open to transplant recipients and divided into age categories. He plans to play badminton and run the 100-metre dash in the Canadian Transplant Games slated for Aug. 8-13 in Edmonton. Simonsmeier says he once ran the 100 in 11.3 seconds, while his 400-metre relay team was clocked at under 50 seconds. “It’s not exactly the Olympics, but it’s not bad,” he explains, adding some fellow competitors have also competed in the Commonwealth Games.

City man to compete at the Canadian Transplant Games


Badminton player Ulrich Simonsmeier, a kidney transplant recipient, will compete in the Canadian Transplant Games, Aug. 8 to 13 in Edmonton.
Simonsmeier’s trophy case includes two golds in badminton, a gold in the 100-metre dash and a silver in the 400metre relay – all medals he won during his 30s. But the six-foot-two 195-pounder, who also plays shinny hockey in the winter and occasionally lifts weights, will tell you it’s not about the hardware. For Simonsmeier, it’s about camaraderie, competition – and of course, keeping fit. “After sports in general, I always feel more alive, more awake, rejuvenated,” he says. To help him stay on course, Simonsmeier eats a nutritious diet that includes steak, chicken, lamb, fish, eggs, veggies and a little bit of fruit, rice and potatoes. Although he’s fairly Spartan, he does allow himself the odd beer and the occasional cake binge. The only major drawback in Simonsmeier’s regimen is the frequent globe-trotting he does for his international company. During especially hectic times, he may not do any sports

– DAVID BLOOM, Sun photos

activity for up to three weeks at a time. But when he returns home, he gets right back at it – although not without paying a price. “The next day, I’m always a little stiff, but I feel good,” he says. Simonsmeier, who is divorced and has a 16-year-old daughter who lives in Germany, advises any sports-minded individuals to never give up their physical pursuits. “It’s kept me quite young and energetic,” he says. “I don’t have a problem with obesity, which a lot of people have.” And despite taking anti-rejection medication that suppresses his immune system, Simonsmeier doesn’t get sick. “I’ve not been ill, nothing serious at all,” he says. “I’m sure it’s just because of lifestyle. … So, even with kidney disease, you can live a normal and healthy life. It’s not a death sentence.” Nope, not by a long shot.
– Do you have an inspirational story for Keeping Fit? E-mail Cary Castagna at ccastagna@edmsun.com

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