British Transplant Games 2022

The British Transplant Games 2022 took place in Leeds in July, and a number of local athletes travelled with team Transplant Sport NI to bring home an amazing 13 Gold, 14 Silver and 5 Bronze medals across a whole host of sporting disciplines.

Often referred to as a ‘celebration of life’, the Games have been running for over 40 years, and transplant survivors including children as young as five can compete in more than 25 sports, with many athletes going on to compete at the World Transplant Games.  The Games are also an opportunity to show appreciation for, and remember, organ donors and their families.

Teams from hospitals across the UK come together to compete in a medley of sports over the 4-day event.  It attracts around 1,000 transplant athletes and more than 1,700 supporters.

This year, 17 transplanted patients from Northern Ireland attended the Games as part of the Transplant Sport Northern Ireland (TSNI) team.  They were also supported by two Belfast Health and Social Care Trust staff who will provide medical support to the team.

The team ranged in age from 18 to 60+ consisting of 8 Kidney transplantees, 4 Liver recipients, 4 patients who have had their life transformed through bone marrow transplants, and 1 living donor who competed after donating her kidney to her sister, who also attended.  The team took part in a wide range of sports including swimming, basketball, archery, table tennis, indoor bowl, ten-pin bowling, badminton, golf, cycling and track and field.  For the first time ever, TSNI competed in the 5-a-side football competition.

An incredible 13 Gold, 14 Silver and 5 Bronze medals came home with the team!

It's not just about the medals and camaraderie.  The benefits that sport and attendance at the Games has on new transplantees is also extremely important.  In many cases sport has become a regular part of their transplant rehabilitation with members joining local sports clubs, setting new sporting challenges, whilst some have even gone on to represent NI at European and World Transplant Games in their chosen sport.  This has a lasting impact on patients overall health, well-being and in many cases maintaining stable graft function.

One team member summed up this years Games saying:

"Another great games is behind us. A mixture of the old and new, the joy and sadness; poignant memories of heroes of the past and glimpses of heroes of the future. A strange but thrilling little club of ever grateful people. We honour our donors in word and deed - because of them, we continue on our journey"