After dominating in the swimming pool during a stellar career, Olympian Michael Klim is now living with a rare neurological disorder that requires plasma treatment to help keep him walking.
Klim joined Sunrise to explain why he has thrown his support behind the Red Cross Lifeblood campaign that helps improve the quality of life for thousands of Aussies.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Michael Klim on new role for Red Cross.
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The beloved Australian swimming superstar has been open with his continued battle with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP), after being diagnosed with the incurable and debilitating autoimmune disorder in 2019
The three-time Olympian, international champion, and a former world record holder has described the illness that attacks the body’s nerves as making him lose “pretty much all muscle and sensation in my legs”.
Klim receives plasma derived treatment every six weeks to help him keep walking.
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“I’ve got a treatment which I repeat regularly it’s called IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin), it’s plasma derived, so actually plasma donations have overcome blood donations as the most needed types of donations in Australia,” he said.
“There’s over 50 serious illnesses that are treated with plasma itself, from cancers to autoimmune disorders to trauma, infections.
Michael Klim spoke to Sunrise about his health and new role. Credit: Sunrise
“It’s very similar to giving blood, but actually through that process they separate the plasma and put the rest of the blood back into your body.
“The great thing about donating plasma is you can do it more often, you can give more of it as well, every couple of weeks you can donate plasma.
“With this increase in medications that are derived from plasma, we need more donations.”
Klim says being an ambassador means so much to him because he is “living off this gold liquid”.
“The Aussies out there, they help me function, be a better dad, be a better partner, being a coach, walking up and down the pool deck – they’ve given me my life back.
“The hardest thing with my condition is improvement is very incremental, and it’s slow, nerve regeneration happens so slowly.
“I have been very diligent with my diet and exercise, mindset also. I think the fact that I’ve been able to overcome some darker days in this disorder and now it’s onwards and upwards, hopefully.”
Klim said the condition was “just as hard on the family and carers as it is on myself”.
“They’re living in this no-man’s land not knowing what the future holds, they kind of feel helpless a lot of the time.
“My partner Michelle, it’s been really tough for her seeing me degrade so quickly, losing the ability to walk and losing my identity in a sense, she’s been there helping me to get that back.“
To find the nearest location where you can donate, please visit lifeblood.com.au
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