The 2018 British Transplant Games took place in August in Birmingham. The Games are a four-day multi-sports event whose aim is to promote fitness after transplantation and highlight the continued need for organ donation. Teams from Evelina London Children’s Hospital and GSTT adult kidney unit attended the event with financial support from GSTTKPA.
The Evelina London VIPs
Grainne Walsh, Transplant Advanced Nurse Practitioner, writes: Our team is known as the Evelina London VIPs; we know our competitors are very important people/patients—hence VIPs—however, our transplant clinic is the Penguin Zone of our Hospital.
So our competitors are actually Very Important Penguins!!
Uncertainty, lifelong medicines and hospital appointments are integral to life after transplant. The Games allow our young people to compete in sport alongside their peers who have been through similar experiences. The Transplant Games are the only competition we know where a negative drugs screen would mean disqualification!
This year’s opening ceremony was emotional with both the Donor Family Network and Living Donors given a standing ovation. It was wonderful to see so many of our living donors share this ovation on stage.
Selected to compete for Team GB
Thirty-five children competed for the Evelina London this year in events such as cycling, track & field, racquet sports and swimming. Our VIPs shone, bringing home 61 medals, and were awarded the Best Kidney Team Trophy. What’s more, seven VIPs have been selected to compete for Team GB at the World Transplant Games 2019.
Our team is managed by Pat Hayes, Dispensary Manager, Cathy Gill Senior Health Play Specialist and Grainne Walsh, Transplant Advanced Nurse Practitioner, but is made special by our volunteers who keep the show on the road. Huge thanks go to Janet and Safiya (Beach Floor), Carol, Mandy and Will (Evelina Pharmacy), Judy, Nick, Helen and Felicity (Consultants both retired and current!) and partners Cliff and Mo.
Facilitating such a big team is expensive. We are committed to ensuring financial issues never prevent a child from attending the Games and strive to ensure as many children who want to compete can benefit from the peer support and friendship that comes from being part of the Transplant Games Family. We are very grateful for the ongoing support of our KPA.
Thank you from all of us!
News from the adult team
Simon Bessant, Guy’s Adults Team Manager, writes: A team from Guy’s Hospital, made up of 13 kidney transplant recipients and four living donors. along with 16 supporters, made their way to the annual British Transplant Games in Birmingham at the beginning of August. It was to become a record-breaking year, with over 1,000 athletes taking part in the various competitions.
An astonishing 26 medals
With a relatively small team, Guy’s won an astonishing 26 medals (eight Gold, 10 Silver and eight Bronze). The whole team performed really well in what is a true celebration of organ donation, with standout performances from Henrietta Butcher, who won Golds in 800m, 1500m and 5km runs. Alan Avon, Simon Bessant and Jamie Jessup, as always, cleaned up in their respective badminton competitions.
For those of you wondering what it is like at the games and who are thinking of joining, here’s a great insight from one of our newest team members, Mark Mears:
“People often ask me how I got involved with the British Transplant Games and if I was involved with sports beforehand? Well the truthful answer is, I’ve never really been the sporty type. I took up running about four years ago after I was asked to join some colleagues in a 5km charity fun run, I wasn’t a runner but was certainly up for the challenge. During dialysis clinics I heard about the British Transplant Games: I was told about a previous patient who used to enter and win medals[!], and this immediately sparked my interest. After all, what runner doesn’t like a bit of bling?
“I was transplanted in February 2016 and that summer I got in touch with Transplant Sport, who in turn put me in touch with the Guy’s Adult Transplant Team Manager. As I hadn’t long had my transplant I couldn’t take part in 2016, but my wife and I were invited along as spectators.
“We watched a variety of sports over the weekend. Some competitors were very talented in their disciplines and some were just there to enjoy themselves, which was great to see. One competitor, a young girl, will always stand out in my mind as being a true inspiration. She entered a 100m sprint, and she was the only one on oxygen and with a frame. She stood at the start line, put her frame behind her and when the pistol went she gave it her all with a smile on her face all the way down the track—crowds where going wild.
“I have now competed in Scotland and Birmingham where I have (to my surprise) medalled twice in a 5km speed walk and once in a 200m sprint—the sprint medal I should add was by fluke in Scotland! I have found a coach, and with his help I hope to one day be able to fulfil a new dream: speed walking at the World Transplant Games!
“I would strongly urge anyone reading this, with any interest in sports of any kind, to visit the British Transplant Games website at www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk.
Taking part in the Games really is a truly life-changing experience.”