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North East success at British Transplant Games with one year until international event heads to region

ByDave Stopher

Aug 17, 2018

Today (17 August) marks one year until the start of the World Transplant Games 2019 (WTG2019) in NewcastleGateshead, as North East athletes return triumphant from the British Games.


A number of North East athletes were successful at the recent British Transplant Games in Birmingham, with members of the Newcastle Adults Transplant Team coming away with an impressive 22 medals in total, including eight golds, and a team from the Freeman Hospital winning 32 medals (including 10 for the children’s team).


Medal winners included Daymon Johnstone, a 29-year-old kidney transplantee who won silver in the squash tournament, 49-year-old liver transplantee John Moore who won numerous gold medals in long distance running and Tim Abercrombie, a living donor, who was successful in both golf and athletics.


Ryan Dobinson, 24, from Whitley Bay, received a kidney from his mother (a live donor who won gold in the donor swim relay in Birmingham) and won two silvers and one gold in Birmingham. He commented: “Bringing the World Transplant Games to my home town is a dream come true. I am totally committed to improving my fitness and focus on my track and field training. I am thrilled to be able to represent my country in front of friends and family, alongside my mother, Jill Childs, who is also competing on our Live Donor team.”


WTG2019 will take place from 17-24 August 2019 and see 3,000 participants from 70 different countries descend on the North East. Events will take place in a range of iconic venues from throughout the region including Gateshead International Stadium, Northumbria University’s Sport Central and Close House Golf Resort.


Lynne Holt, Great Britain Team Manager, said: “The enormous task of going through the results from the recent British Transplant Games will determine the GB & NI selection for next year, with members coming from all parts of the UK. Apart from local transplant recipients partaking in sport, many others have already agreed to be part of the volunteer effort and are looking forward to playing an important part in the delivery of the World Transplant Games in NewcastleGateshead.”


The government recently announced a new opt-out system for organ donation in which adults will be presumed to be organ donors unless they have specifically said that they do not wish to be. Last year over 400 people in the UK died waiting for a transplant and the government says that the new system would save up to 700 lives each year.


Professor Paul A Corris, WTG2019 Medical Director and Emeritus Professor Institute of Cellular Medicine Newcastle University, added: “My medical colleagues and I are really looking forward to hosting WTG2019 next year. Newcastle’s Hospitals and University enjoy a proud tradition of performing cutting edge innovative transplant science that impacts on patients and have been recognised as the National Blood and Transplant research unit for Organ Donation in collaboration with Cambridge University, with funding from the National Institute for Health Research.


“The games will provide an excellent opportunity for us to engage with the public over contemporary issues such as the proposed donor organ opt-out legislation in England, due for parliamentary debate in 2020. The unacceptable statistic of 411 deaths on the UK transplant waiting list in 2017, illustrates the continued need to increase organ donation as well as organ utilisation. Whilst the proposed legislation debate is to be welcomed, it does not mean that we should relax our efforts to ensure that everybody continues to discuss organ donation within the family and make one’s views on organ donation after death clear to loved ones.


“We have two hopes for the longstanding legacy of the games. Firstly, to achieve an increase in the number of transplants carried out in the UK to meet current and future need and secondly, to demonstrate the value of exercise in maximising general health for all who have received an organ transplant, an important factor in ensuring the best long-term outcomes. We wish to ensure maximal impact of organ donation and transplantation, firstly as a lifesaver and then long-term life changer for our patients.”


The legacy of the Games will be to encourage as many people as possible to share their organ donation wishes with members of their families, a cause which will be promoted through Organ Donation Week 2018 between 3rd and 9th September.


The World Transplant Games 2019 are delivered by destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGateshead Initiative, on behalf of the U.K. charity Transplant Sport, and in partnership with a range of stakeholders.

For more information on the World Transplant Games NewcastleGateshead 2019 visit http://worldtransplantgames.org/.