North East Connected

Countdown for North East Transplant Athletes

Great Britain transplant athletes fly the Union Jack flag at the European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championship in Cagliari, Sardinia, June 17th-24th


North East athletes, who had their transplants at the Freeman Hospital, are preparing to fly out to Cagliari, Sardinia to compete in the European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championship.

Athletes include John Moore from Heaton, a liver transplant, and long distance runner who was gold medallist at the last European Games, and Alex Bell from Jesmond, a heart transplant, who is competing for the first time on the European stage.

Alex commented: “Taking part as an athlete after a heart transplant is one of the many wonderful consequences of receiving the gift of life. There are so many who die waiting for a transplant which is avoidable only if there are more people who are willing to donate. I am very happy that I can share my experience and hope that more people will consider registering as a donor.”

Overall 50 inspirational transplant athletes who have overcome serious illness are flying out to Cagliari to compete in the Championship. All these athletes represent Team Great Britain (GB) and are supported by the charity, Transplant Sport.

The Games are open to kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas, bone marrow transplant recipients and dialysis patients, of all ages and abilities, from over 25 different countries. The sports are volleyball, badminton, tennis, table tennis, cycling, petanque, swimming, darts, golf, virtual triathlon, ten pin bowling, mini-marathon and athletics.

Team Great Britain consists of heart, kidney, pancreas, liver, small bowel and bone marrow transplant athletes, including 1 on dialysis, waiting for a kidney transplant, ranging in age from 15 to 67. The Games offer transplanted athletes and those on dialysis, an opportunity for sporting competition, to live life to the full, in the spirit of sport and friendship, and give thanks to organ donor families

Lynne Holt, from the UK charity Transplant Sport (TS) which supports Team Great Britain, said: “The athletes need to be at their peak of physical fitness to compete, clearly illustrating the benefits of organ transplantation. Many of our transplant athletes have experienced near death situations and long illness, and it is very gratifying to see them able to enjoy a full life, thanks to organ donation. All our athletes are gold medallists, in that they have all won their race for life! However, the true champions are those individuals that gave the gift of life, offering all these athletes their second chance to live.

“Hopefully this international event will encourage others to sign on to the Organ Donor Register, but most importantly, discuss their donation wishes with their families now.”

Some members of the GB team are also competing at the European Heart/Lung Transplant Championship this month, also in Italy. Local athletes will have a unique opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd when the World Transplant Games comes to NewcastleGateshead next year.

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