Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 10.37.31The work of key organisations involved in raising the profile of organ donation, has been recognised today at the Freeman Hospital’s Institute of Transplantation, Newcastle’s pioneering transplantation unit.

David Nix from the Donor Family Network, a charity that provides support for donor families across the UK, met with representatives from the Institute along with colleagues from the charity Transplant Sport and council members from the World Transplant Games Federation – to thank each organisation for its vital role in raising awareness of organ donation and supporting transplantees.

Having hosted the most successful British Transplant Games ever last year, NewcastleGateshead is currently bidding to host the World Transplant Games in summer 2019 and today’s event was part of a packed itinerary for a panel visit from the World Transplant Games Federation: Chris Thomas, President (from Australia), Kim Renyard, Executive Manager (from South Africa) and Colin White, Treasurer (from Ireland). NewcastleGateshead has been shortlisted alongside Houston in Texas and this week’s visit will help to inform the final decision to be made in July.

Speaking at today’s event, David Nix, Chairman of the Donor Family Network, said: “As NewcastleGateshead bids to bring the World Transplant Games here, the visit from the Federation has provided a great opportunity to both profile the pioneering work underway here and to formally thank some of the organisations and individuals playing an important role in keeping organ donation front of mind.

“My charity is run by donor families for donor families and we really want to encourage more open debate and ultimately to encourage sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register. Transplant Sport and the World Transplant Games Federation have significant national and international reach and through their work to engage transplantees in sport are doing a fantastic job and really helping to spread the word in an accessible way.”

Andy Eddy, Chairman of Transplant Sport, the charity which organises the annual British Transplant Games, said: “As a transplant recipient and a competitor in the British Transplant Games, I know first-hand the role sport can play in building confidence and improving quality of life. The Games – both the British and World Games – provide a great platform to highlight the need for organ donors and to celebrate the gift of life enjoyed by transplantees right across the globe.”

In 1987 the World Transplant Games Federation – whose purpose is to visibly demonstrate the benefits of successful organ transplantation, work to increase public awareness of its success and thereby increase organ donation rates – was officially formed to drive forward the Games as a vehicle to achieve these objectives. The Summer World Transplant Games now take place every two years and the Winter Games in the intervening years.

The competitors are unique in that each one of them is alive and well as a result of a successful organ transplant. Were it not for that transplant these competitors may well be dead or have to endure long hours of dialysis as in the case of patients with kidney failure. The Games embrace all ages, anyone from 4 – 80 years old who qualifies is welcome to participate. There are over 50 events to suit all capabilities including athletics, 10 pin bowling, swimming, racquet sports, golf, volleyball, lawn bowls and cycling.

Chris Thomas, President of the World Transplant Games Federation, said: “The World Transplant Games would provide a unique opportunity to cast a spotlight on a social and health issue that knows no boundaries, whether race, creed, religion or social background.

“The UK is a diverse cultural society and the concept of bringing transplant recipients here from 65 countries across the world would help embed the values of organ donation in all cultural groups in Great Britain.

“We are pleased with the NewcastleGateshead bid and what we have seen thus far – the city has certainly put its best foot forward.”

Graham Wylie, chair of the local organising committee for the British Transplant Games in 2015 and for the 2019 World Transplant Games bid team, said: “Being involved with the British Transplant Games was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Last year we delivered the most successful Games ever; more than 850 transplant athletes from across the UK and 2,500 spectators came together for a four day celebration of sport – powered by the gift of life.

“This experience has inspired both myself and partners across NewcastleGateshead to continue this commitment to raise awareness of transplantation and encourage more people to sign on the NHS Organ Donor Register. We have the venues, the facilities but most importantly, the passion and commitment to inspire a generation. Being the host destination for the World Transplant Games would galvanise support across the destination and we’re confident we can deliver a truly memorable event that not only champions Transplant Sport, but also celebrates the truly unique competitors who inspire greatness.”

The NewcastleGateshead World Transplant Games bid has been developed through a partnership approach led and co-ordinated by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (destination marketing agency for NewcastleGateshead) and MLS (the event management company involved in co-ordinating the British Transplant Games) in support of the official bidding organisation Transplant Sport UK. Other key partners include: Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHF Foundation Trust and Graham Wylie (chair of the local organising committee).

The World Transplant Games was last staged in the UK in 1995 when Manchester hosted the event.