The Birmingham Adult Transplant Sport Team has today announced its 33 strong team set to take part in the Westfield Health British Transplant Games in Newport from the 25-28 July.
It is the flagship event of the charity, Transplant Sport. It sees teams from hospitals across the UK come together in a four-day festival of sport and life and attracts around 2500 transplant recipients, live donors, donor families and supporters.
Track and field, swimming, cycling, darts, walking and snooker are just some of the 25 sports and events on offer in the jam-packed schedule.
Birmingham Adult Transplant Sport Team’s Manager Martin Searle explains:
“It is important for transplant recipients to be involved with an activity, like sport, no matter how intense, this is good for mental and physical health. It is also a good way to maintain fitness and prolong the life of the transplanted organ. The Westfield Health British Transplant Games is a great way in which to do all the above as well as interact with others in the same position as all transplant recipients, supporters and others as well as having fun”.
And while there will be sprinters and swimmers chasing down personal bests and podium positions, the focus is firmly on taking part, having fun and celebrating life. Competitors are aged from as young as three to well into their eighties.
The team is led by Derek Johnson who has competed in 18 BTG and 7 WTG since 1998. Derek, who had a Liver transplant in 1997 says that, the cause of him needing a Liver transplant was hepatitis which he contracted in his 30’s, although it was never resolved how/why he contracted this. Over about 20 years it caused severe damage to his Liver which made it necessary for him to have a transplant. His new Liver as been perfect however the rest of his body is slowing down somewhat. Derek has experienced quite a few side effects from the drug therapy initially but that as settled down. He had a few other health issues such as bowel cancer and subsequent problems related to that, some small skin cancers.
Derek says “Thanks to my organ donor who by giving a liver has given me (to date) an enjoyable 22 years of life, to the medical team, researchers, surgeons, nursing staff and all those who have looked after me ever since and also to Transplant Sport for providing the means to compete again after many years of illness prior to my transplant. A valued and wonderful way to get back into sport and to enjoy the friendship of many, many people over the years”.
The team also features many other transplant recipient competitors, each of whom have very different aims in life, but with very similar organ transplant journey stories of their own.
The aim of the Games is to raise awareness of organ donation and encourage families to have the donation conversation. Title sponsor Westfield Health, a leading not-for-profit health insurer, has been involved in the Games for more than a decade.
Westfield Health Chairman Graham Moore said, “The British Transplant Games is a fantastic initiative which raises awareness of such an important cause. It means a lot that so many talented individuals are keen to take part in the Games.
“Although Wales was the first to introduce the opt-out system for organ donation, there is still a considerable need to positively promote the benefits of organ donation, how essential it is to discuss your wishes with loved ones, plus raise the general awareness of the need for transplant recipients to lead active and healthy lives to increase transplant life expectancy.”
Right now, there are over 6,000 people waiting for an organ transplant across the UK. On average three people die every day in need of an organ transplant because there just aren’t enough organ donors.
The event is supported by Westfield Health, Welsh Government, Newport City Council, Newport Live, the local health boards across Wales, NHS Blood and Transplant, Kidney Care UK, Anthony Nolan Register, Donor Family Network and Believe Organ Donor Support. Local supporters include Celtic Manor, Rodney Parade and Icon Creative.
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