After much anticipation and excitement, the Westfield Health British Transplant Games are finally here. With events beginning on Thursday 4 August, the Public Health Agency (PHA) would like to take the opportunity to welcome all the athletes to Belfast and wish them all the very best in the upcoming sporting events.
The games exist to showcase the benefits of transplantation, to encourage those who have had a transplant to lead active and healthy lives and to highlight the desperate need for more organ donors across the UK. The event will see around 500 athletes, each of whom have received a life saving transplant, take part in the 20 sporting activities during the four day period. For some this will be their first Transplant Games, but most of the athletes will be looking forward to meeting up with former contestants with whom they have made lasting friendships.
The games are an exciting time for all. Athletes from all across the UK will be competing to win medals and beat their own personal best. Spectators can attend various sporting events and watch in awe as transplant recipients battle it out. The games are an excellent opportunity for Northern Ireland to come together, celebrate life and show support for organ donation.
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency and Chair of the local organising committee for the games, said: “It seems like only yesterday that the local organising committee were meeting for the first time to draw up a plan of action for the 2011Transplant Games, yet here we are only a few days away from the opening ceremony. It is very exciting, everything has fallen into place nicely and for that we are all very thankful to everyone who has made the games possible.”
Dr Rooney continued: “The games are not only a great opportunity to create awareness of the need for organ donors and give thanks to donor families for their generosity and support, but it is a great way to celebrate the ‘gift of life’. Without a life-saving transplant many of the athletes would not be able to compete today, for that I know they are all tremendously grateful. I would like to personally congratulate all of them on their achievements so far, and wish them all the very best in each of their sporting events.”
Welcoming the games, Health Minister Edwin Poots said: "I am delighted that the Transplant Games have arrived in Belfast. They serve as a reminder to all of us of the extremely important issue of organ donation for those who need life-saving transplants.
"We all have the opportunity to help others in need and save lives by joining the Organ Donor Register and by discussing our wish to donate an organ with family and friends.
"I would ask everyone in Northern Ireland, who has not already done so, to take the simple step today of registering on the Organ Donor Register; it is one of the most generous things a human being can do to help others.
"I would like to wish all participants in the games good luck and hope that they continue to lead healthy, active lives."
Contact the PHA Press Office, Ormeau Avenue, on 028 9031 1611.
Information on Transplant Sport and the Westfield Health British Transplant Games and be found at:
Notes to the editor
1. You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by:
- Filling in a form online at: www.organdonation.nhs.uk
- Calling the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 (lines are open 24 hours a day)
- Texting SAVE to 84118
You can also join when you are:
- Registering for a driving licence
- Applying for a Boots Advantage card
- Registering at a GP surgery
- Registering for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Leaflets are also displayed in GP surgeries, libraries and many hospitals and pharmacies.
2.The NHS Organ Donor Register records the details of people who have registered their wish to donate organs and/or tissue after their death for transplantation. This information is used by authorised medical staff to establish whether a person wanted to donate.
3.Final consent is taken from the next of kin, so it is vital that you discuss your wishes with them now.