The World Transplant Games were founded in 1978 by consultant surgeon, Maurice Slapack. He brought together his patients and other transplant recipients to hold the first ever Transplant Games in Portsmouth.
The aim of these games was to promote the benefits of organ transplantation and provide opportunities for transplantees to demonstrate their strong and healthy physical capabilities. These games have continued to grow and develop. Initially, in 1978 there were 99 athletes, all being kidney recipients from the UK, USA and France. Since this, the World Transplant Games have grown, being held bi-annually, to now hosting amateur athletes from 69 countries at this mulit-sport event.
The games were created to encourage all transplant recipients, regardless of ability, to get active and be healthy whilst also promoting organ donation. Athletes come together and compete for the love of the sport and to meet with other transplant recipients. They can compete in a variety of sports from darts and ten pin bowling to swimming, athletics and badminton.
I am proud to be part of the medical provision for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team. Having been selected eight years ago to support the team at the 2015 World Transplant Games in Argentina, I have supported these athletes ever since.
Covid had a big impact on the world but for transplantees being classed as extremely clinically vulnerable, they hid away! Being immunosuppressed, they were at risk. For the athletes of the Transplant Games, everything stopped - they had to entertain themselves within their own homes. Some took to running up and down stairs to keep fit, others doing circuits in the garden, their dedication allowed them to find alternate ways to maintain their fitness.
This shows the resilience of transplantees, that they continue to live life to the full. The British and World Transplant Games were cancelled to protect this vulnerable group. This is why this summer has been such a success, as the British Transplant Games in Leeds in July and European Transplant Games in Oxford in August, allowed transplant athletes to meet once again. For myself, it was great to be back treating, being able to be a part of the athletes’ journeys, supporting them throughout the games, preparing them for competition and helping to minimise injury risk.
Next year, sees the return of the World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia. The athletes get no financial support for any of the games whether that be British, European or World games and, like them, we all have to raise our own funds. I am looking at raising £3000 in order for me to fully support our athletes at the next World Transplant Games in Australia in April 2023.
As a swimmer, I am challenging myself to complete the Polar Bear Challenge through the winter, swimming in lakes and sea, with just a swimming costume. This is a fundraiser that should push me to the limit, something which every transplantee has done and continues to do daily. Supporting this, will be a raffle to which I approached Runr. Knowing the quality of their clothing as I use this myself, I wanted to share with others. Runr has kindly provided raffle prizes to support my fundraising efforts.
During fundraising it is important to raise awareness of organ donation and the Transplant Games. Being able to support these athletes throughout their training and performance is an experience in itself.
If you would like more information about the World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia please visit wtgf.org/2023-games-perth-australia/
For information on Transplant Sport UK visit www.transplantsport.org.uk and Just giving information is here https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/louise-anderson-388