In 2019 the British Transplant Games took place in Newport, Wales from 25th to 28th July. Teams from GSTT adult kidney unit and Evelina London Children’s Hospital attended the event with support from GSTTKPA.
News from GSTT Adult Team
Simon Bessant, Adult Team Manager writes: This year, GSTT sent a team of 14 transplant recipients and 3 live donors to compete in sports from athletics to archery. Over the four days of the Games, the team got to meet old and new friends and welcome new members, as well as competing in the Games in honour of our donors.
There were four new competitors this year, including three who had recently transferred from the Evelina children’s team and one new adult team member. As always, our team is welcoming to new competitors and their families.
The Games began with snooker, archery, squash and volleyball competitions, followed by the Opening Ceremony. The latter was followed by our team meal, which gives us all a chance to catch up and get to know each other.
Throughout Friday and Saturday the team competed in many different sports, culminating in team members and supporters competing in the donor run (either 3km or 5km walking or running). This is the star event for publicising the Games and the difference organ donation makes to people’s lives, and is open to public participation.
On Sunday, after the athletics competitions, the Games closed with a gala celebration. There was much for us to celebrate as we did really well, winning eight Gold, eight Silver and seven Bronze medals. This achievement and our attendance were only possible because of the generosity of GSTTKPA, who helped fund the team.
One of our new competitors comments:
“I was a first-year attendee with the Adult Transplant Team at this year’s Transplant Games in Newport. After attending the games for many years as a child, I was looking to a new experience at the Games.
I have to say that both competitively and socially it was a fantastic experience for myself and my family from beginning to end, made even more special when I won a Silver medal in the 5k walk. Without the very generous funding from the KPA (due to my Young Adult status), my family and I would not have been able to attend. We appreciate this very much and hope to be able to attend the Games next year in Coventry.”
The adult team meets up a couple of times each year before the Games, and we are always welcoming to new people that want to find out more about the games. For more information about the Games, please contact Simon Bessant (Simon_Bessant@hotmail.com)
News from the Evelina VIPs
Grainne Walsh, Transplant Advanced Nurse Practitioner, writes: 2019 is a milestone year, as Evelina London celebrates its 150th birthday and we entered our largest team ever at the British Transplant Games. And once again we were crowned National Best Kidney Kids Team: a fantastic achievement!
This year, 37 families made up the Evelina London VIPs (Very Important People, Patients and most importantly Penguins!), with competitors ranging in age from 3 to 17 years. Together with their 40 siblings, families, supporters and volunteers, we numbered 165 people—so were definitely seen and heard throughout the Games weekend. Mia, our three-year-old competitor, found herself in the spotlight, as she was the youngest competitor in the whole Games. Having only recently found herself able to walk, she became a great ambassador for organ donation and transplantation, as her story was covered in national newspapers and on ITN news.
Emily and Lilly’s father Tim and friend Rob cycled from their home in Surrey to Newport with huge support from John, to meet us at the hotel in time for the Opening Ceremony, not only raising vital funds but much needed awareness. So thank you, guys, and a huge well done!
The Opening Ceremony was held in Rodney Parade, home of Newport AFC. It was so exciting being welcomed into a crowded, cheering stadium. The event became emotional when the living donor group were welcomed in and our team were proud to count many of our parents amongst them. The final group who entered the stadium were the Donor Family Network team, who deservedly received a prolonged standing ovation.
Our team took part in 17 different sports (track & field, tennis, table tennis, badminton, cycling, swimming and archery) over the four competition days, and did us proud by bringing home 58 medals!
The Organ Donor Awareness run is traditionally held during the Games and it was great to see over 150 of us get colourful and help raise awareness as we toddled, were pushed, ran or walked the route.
We were incredibly proud of Rian and George who competed for the Junior Great Britain & NI team at the World Transplant Games just a few weeks after the British Games, and are thrilled to report they both won medals.
We stayed in the Marriot St Pierre Hotel and the team there were incredible in making our stay memorable. They had penguins dotted all around the hotel from the housekeeping carts to main reception. There was also a craft station to help when children needed some quiet time and a penguin-themed welcome zone on our arrival. It was really special!
This year we wanted to reduce our single-use plastic consumption. Usually a team our size will get through hundreds of water bottles, so this year all the VIPs were given a refillable sports bottle, decorated with great penguin stickers made by Kitty’s VIP uncle Clive. Our hotel kept penguin-themed water urns available throughout our stay and we all felt very proud of the difference we made.
The Transplant Games are an annual highlight, not only encouraging transplant recipients to get fit and compete in sport, but allowing the Evelina London Transplant team to facilitate much-needed support for our children, their siblings and parents. Having such a big team is amazing; this year saw 40% of our patients compete, which is wonderful but it doesn’t come cheap. As ever, we would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of our KPA and say a very big thank you!