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Genie Kilpatrick wins the CATA Inspiration Award for 2019

profile picture of Sheri Norris
by Sheri Norris
Genie Kilpatrick Smiling


For many, TENNIS has been a big part of our lives. For Genie, TENNIS has always been a big
part of her life, but it also played a role in saving her life.

After taking her first lessons from Ken McAllister at early age in Deer Park, TX, Genie began
her tennis journey playing competitively in high school @ Deer Park HS and USTA TX junior
tournaments (1976-’80). Tennis provided her with the opportunity to receive a scholarship
playing at Stephen F. Austin (1980-1984) on a competitive nationally ranked team and Genie
acquired a doubles national ranking #17 in NCAA II. After college tennis, Genie competed in
CATA and USTA tournaments singles and doubles and achieved USTA TX singles and doubles

Tennis was also Genie’s career – she coached high school tennis in TX for 28 years at Leander
HS, Clear Brook HS and Del Valle HS. Her accomplishments as a tennis coach were recognized
by the TTCA in 2005 as “4A Coach of the Year” when her Clear Brook HS Team went to State
in ’95. But, as Genie says, her accomplishment in coaching high school tennis was that “I
introduced kids to the sport of a lifetime and enjoyed seeing them improve.” Genie loved
coaching tennis and sharing her love of tennis with her players.

It was toward the end of her teaching career in 2010 that she began to notice the symptoms of
shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. She was out of breath with everyday activities
and playing tennis became impossible. Her Austin doctors were perplexed and sent her to Mayo
Clinic in Minnesota for evaluation. She was first diagnosed with a chronic disease called
Pulmonary Hypertension and put on medication and oxygen. Genie was not only unable to play
tennis, but struggled with the simplest of activities. After 5 years of treatment at Mayo, her
conditioned worsened. In late 2016, Mayo diagnosed her with a rare and deadly pulmonary
disease called pulmonary capillary hemangiomatosis. The only option was a double lung
transplant and Mayo recommended UTSW Med Center in Dallas.

After thorough testing at UTSW, in March of 2017, Genie was placed on the transplant list. She
received the call in the early morning hours of July 30, 2017 and her tennis racquet was the first
thing she grabbed to take with her to Dallas… a physical reminder of the possibility of playing
tennis again. Her post-transplant recovery in the hospital was a challenging 55 day journey but
on day10, she was able to hold her racquet in her hand. Within days, Genie was walking the
halls w/her racquet, dreaming of playing soon. Thankful to her donor for her gift of life, Genie
said, “Because someone unselfishly decided to be an organ donor, I have been given a second
chance – another swing -at life! I am so grateful and motivated to make my donor proud.”
Competing in tennis again was at the top of her list along with helping spread awareness of organ donation.

With her recovery each day was a challenge, but finally in mid-November 2017, Genie returned
home to Austin with the amazing gift of new lungs. She has been fortunate pre and post-
transplant to have an incredible support group of friends and family. Many of her friends have
supported her through her years in tennis and have helped provide encouragement during her recovery
post-transplant. Genie trained at the gym, hiked the greenbelt, started running again,
and finally… was out on the court playing the game she loves!

Just one year out post-transplant in August of 2018, Genie competed in tennis at the
US Olympic Transplant Games in Salt Lake City. “What an incredible experience to see the positive
effects of how organ donation profoundly affects so many lives… of the recipients and the donor families.
Genie brought home the gold medal for Team Texas, just one year out from her double
lung transplant.

Then this summer, 2 years post-transplant, Genie was honored to be a part of Team USA and
compete in the World Transplant Games in England. She proudly represented her donor and was able
to bring home the gold medal in tennis for Team USA. Genie said, “it was because of tennis,
that I was in good physical condition pre-transplant as my body, especially my heart and
lungs, were strong and able to hold out longer. Tennis was also my motivation to stay strong
while I was on the transplant list and now in post-transplant, because of tennis, I recovered my
strength sooner. Tennis has played such a huge role in my recovery.”

Genie: “I’ve learned to take nothing for granted and to make the most of every single day. I have
been given a second chance at life and I’m so thankful for this gift of life that an organ donor
provided me. Because of my donor, I will continue to compete and enjoy this incredible sport of
tennis for the rest of my life, and I will also do my part to provide awareness on how organ
donation can save lives just as it saved mine.”

Learn more about organ donation from Donate Life Texas.