The Westfield Health British Transplant Games took Leeds by storm in July as over 2,000 transplant recipients, live donors, donor families and supporters gathered for four days of sport and celebrations.
The long-awaited Games was the largest gathering of transplant recipients since 2019, finally able to take place physically after three years of lockdowns and shielding due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Across the weekend, the flagship event of charity Transplant Sport saw 24 events take place, over 2,100 medals given out and 1,340 runners join the annual Donor Run, which is the only event open to everyone and designed to thank donors and donor families for giving the ultimate gift of life.
A highlight of the weekend and an exciting first for the Games saw crowds at the John Charles Centre for Sport surprised by Yorkshire Air Ambulance, when the first ever British Transplant Games branded, region-specific organ donor card arrived by helicopter.
Transplant Sport and Gamer organisers have worked in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant to develop the Yorkshire Donor Card, designed to leave a legacy and a commitment to organ donation in the region as the Games move on.
Following the changes to organ donation law in England in May 2020, all adults are considered to be organ donors unless they ‘opt out’. However, families still have the ability to override this decision, so it’s now more important than ever for people to have the conversation about organ donation wishes with their loved ones.
Roger Burnley, Chair of the British Transplant Games’ Stakeholder Board, wanted to create the Yorkshire Donor Card to ensure that the Games have a lasting effect and that the people of Yorkshire have a physical reminder to start those crucial conversations.
“The past three years have been so tough for the transplant community and this weekend really was the most joyous celebration of life.
“It was an absolute pleasure to see people reunited and I’m so proud to be part of the campaign to keep organ donation on the agenda in Yorkshire. These organ donor cards will be an amazing vehicle for encouraging families to have that important conversation and it’s so exciting that our region is leading the way in working with NHSBT to create them.”
“The Games was a weekend to remember but for me, the work doesn’t stop here. I’m determined to keep people in Yorkshire talking!”
After the exciting arrival of the first Yorkshire Organ Donor card, the Games came to a sparkling end with a closing ceremony at Leeds’s Royal Armouries. More exciting announcements followed as headline sponsor Westfield Health renewed its commitment to the Games, revealing that they would continue to support financially until 2028.
Dave Capper, Chief Executive Officer at Westfield Health, said:
“There is no greater way of improving lives than to give the gift of life itself. We’ve been supporting the British Transplant Games for over ten years, and we’re proud to renew our commitment and continue supporting this great cause.”
The British Transplant Games was staged with the support of over 20 sponsors who generated over £400,000, including long-term partners Kidney Care UK and Anthony Nolan and crucial local supporters such as Leeds City Council, Leeds Hospitals Charity and the University of Leeds. The full list of sponsors is available here.
Planning is now underway for the next Games, which will be held in Coventry in 2023. For more information on the British Transplant Games and how you can get involved, visit: britishtransplantgames.co.uk.