Over 50 inspirational transplant athletes who have overcome serious illness are flying out to Cagliari, Sardinia to compete in the European Transplant Sport Championship. All these athletes represent Team Great Britain (GB) and are supported by the charity, Transplant Sport
The Games are open to all 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, archery and athletics.
One of these is local athlete Martin Strang from Falkirk, who had a kidney and pancreas transplant nearly 6 years ago. says
“I am doing archery, petanque and ten pin bowling although my main sport is the archery. Every time I pick my bow up, I am doing in honour and memory of my young donor, whom I only know as Toby. Without Toby and his family’s precious gift of organ donation, I would still be hooked to a dialysis machine 4 times a day, and my outlook on life would be very, very different. I keep in touch with my donor family, whom I think they only know my name, several times a year by card, keeping them updated on the precious gift Toby gave me.
Since having the transplants, I decided to take up archery and won gold for my age group in the British games in Lanarkshire last year (my first ever games), and in the last two years that I have been competing in archery, I think I have done well in Scottish Archery Competitions, picking up several gold, silver and bronze medals, and my proudest moment was receiving a Falkirk Art and Sports council disability award in March this year, again all thanks to the gift from Toby.
I have a quiver belt and arm guard honouring Toby and the very special date of July 23rd 2012. To be going to Sardinia as part of the Transplant Sport UK, Team Great Britain is a great honour and I am very excited to be attending and the atmosphere I think is going to be amazing to meet other athletes from across Europe, all who have had transplants or who are currently waiting for transplants and still on dialysis, and its thanks to my family, and donors on my fundraising page that I am able to attend, and I hope to do everyone proud, especially Toby’s family..”
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”