A 67-YEAR-OLD Brazilian woman, once bedridden, has pledged to pursue an active lifestyle, even including canoeing, after receiving the heart of the coach of Germany’s slalom canoe team who died following a car crash during the 2016 Olympics.
Ivonette Balthazar, from Rio de Janeiro, had the heart transplant last year after Stefan Henze, 35, suffered a fatal head injury when his taxi crashed into a concrete barrier.
His death three days later shook the German Olympic team.
Balthazar, who suffered a heart attack in 2012, participated in her first sporting event with her grandson in September, walking three kilometres along Rio’s Copacabana beach.
A cut-out heart pinned to her shirt read: “I have a transplanted heart.”
She plans to push herself further to take up Henze’s sport.
“Today my goal is to do more and more. My body is asking for it, and I can’t let this heart go to waste,” she told Reuters. “I will get a canoe in the lagoon and paddle.”
Henze received a silver medal for slalom canoe at the 2004 Olympics before going on to coach the sport.