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Transplant Games 2012

Posted Sep 12 2012 4:34pm
                                                     Wednesday 22nd August

Welcome to Westfield Health British Transplant Games, taking place this year 2012 in Medway (Kent). I arrived the night before, as was due to rehearse at Dicken's World with Jamie (another transplantee) for a magic performance on the Friday night. It was fuelled with a milkshake at a local American Diner next door. So, rehearsals done and now time for a meal out in the complex, and a quick meeting with a friend from Twitter, Graham who also supported the event and took some great photos. Then, time to return back to the student accommodations whereby most of the Harefield team were staying.
Happy and Smiley

Well here we all are about to parade and very proud from our hospitals ,  competitors from the ages of 2-82 and 600 athletes partaking in this year's Westfield Health British Transplant Games 2012.
There was also the 'donor families' parading with us with a banner at the end of the line, and much respect for those who were there. I was lucky to be able to be able to speak with a lovely lady named, Claire who lost her mother, Linda to a sudden brain aneurysm almost a year ago. It was quite emotional to hear of Claire's experience of this and one that after our conversation made me feel very reflective, and think again of the man who gave me his lungs. Her mother sadly passed away aged 59 and Claire informed me that she was with a friend, and then suddenly she stopped talking mid conversation, and had a stroke. Then Linda was unable to talk, walk, function and the stroke further caused a heart attack which put her into cardiac arrest. Her mother was now also paralyzed and when in hospital was induced into a coma. This was to be a precautionary measure to reduce swelling, but during the night she suffered a second bleed. As Claire went on telling me her story it was hard not to be moved and hear the emotion the way Claire spoke to me. Everyone has their own story and it is sad to loose someone, but amazing to think that part of her mother lives on. It was always known what her wishes were and her views on organ donation. From this, Claire has also built up a good friendship with the Transplant Co-Ordinator at the hospital where her mother went on to give life after life.

Her mother  Linda, went on to help 6 people and both her kidneys, liver, both corneas, and vessels from eyes/behind the eyes were used to help recipients. Claire has received one letter from one kidney recipient. Our system has a lot of elements being anonymous and not revealing too much about the donor and recipient. I was told how old my donor was and the gender. He was a man and aged 42, and although I have written 3 letters, I have never heard back. I must admit for me personally, I find this one of my hardest struggles not knowing anything else about this man (and I may never ever find out). I had in my mind that I would hear back and maybe meet the person's wife/brother/mum or someone related to him. Sadly, this was never to be and part of my journey I need to still adjust too. For Claire, she expressed that it would be nice to hear back again from the first person who contacted her and hear from the other recipients. I guess though, everyone has various opinions and different ways to cope with loss or receiving an organ. Also, for us recipients whether we do write to our donor family or not. It is a very individual experience. After speaking to Claire, it has made me feel I want to write one more time, and if then I don't hear back....perhaps I need to heal and accept this. There isn't a day that goes by whereby I don't think of the man who lungs I breathe with and how he saved my life. I am breathing and living for him. I would like to thank Claire very much for her time talking to me over this sensitive issue, and Claire also expressed that she would be happy to talk to other people who have gone through similar experiences. Please get in contact with me, and I can pass your details on. Thanks
Harefield Team

It was great to see friends again and meet 'newbie's' (newly transplanted people attending the games) and walking proud with our hospital banners towards Rochester Cathedral.

The Parade is Starting

Each hospital was introduced as we entered the stunning cathedral, and extra mentions of people who done perhaps something great/extra-ordinary last year/this year. As our team entered and sat down, I heard my name and my sailing venture through the microphone followed by some 'woo's' of friends sitting behind me. A variety of displays were put on for us including:- a male choir, dance shows, speeches, and a very special performance (song/piano) by Peter Murray - as mentioned below.

Inside Rochester Cathedral welcoming all the athletes

Peter Murray
Don't Mess with me

Terminator's ;)


Army and Navy rocking it

Alison helping athlete Lora
I asked some questions to both physio's and Alison went on to tell me that her involvement with Transplant Sport started in 2001 when she had an unexpected phone call from a girl, (Sandy) who had worked with her at Physio Practice, then left to emigrate to New Zealand. Her sister was a member of the British Transplant Games team and so Sandy had agreed to go with the team to Japan for the World Games in 2001, but couldn't go due to her new work commitments in NZ so she rang and asked if Alison would take her place. After being interviewed with Christine Evans who was a Team Doctor at that time, Alison then signed up - not knowing what she was getting into. In order to meet up with the Team, Alison  went to her first British Games which were in Leeds and was overwhelmed by the nature of the event and also shocked that there was no Physio support to any of the athletes at the Games. Alison's first Games with the Team in Kobe, Japan, was a revelation and a life-changing event - and she became hooked. The next year at the British Games, Alison turned up with a couch and some tape and started to provide a limited service which over the next few years turned into providing a team of people and a more comprehensive Physio service. It was her idea to provide for the transplant athletes the same level of support that any national level athletes could expect, and in the last few years with Physio volunteer teams of up to 20 Physios/Sports Masseurs. The service is now an integral part of the planning and provision for the Games, and is both expected and well received by the athletes. 
Sheila's association with TSUK has changed her as a person and has given her an opportunity to be part of a very special community of people. Sheila explains this being like, 'my extended family, and that it was so easy to fall in love with everyone.' And, 'they are highly competitive and deeply care about each other which is very unusual in sport. I have worked at children's games, school games olympic and about to do the para olympics. I have worked with teams and individual both local national and international level. I have enjoyed all of these things but my heart belongs to the TSUK. A very special team - and we are very lucky to have Alison lead us all to maintain a professional and very high standard of physiotherapy.'
Shelia on left in middle with volunteers and Alison far right
Getting ready for battle

Lucky us we both won silver!

Lisa and I winners :)

Silver Champions

The evening was a group meal at 'hollywood Bowl', and I was very good  avoiding a burger for salmon. But, it all failed after we shared a dessert with ice-cream, cream, sweets, meringue and lots of naughtiness. Bed by 11.50pm.

Well, take note of this photo below...and...'just do it'. Thank you and goodnight xx

Just Do It

With Simon - free chips for a photo ;)
Jussie Bolt

Getting ready to throw the Javelin

Discus action

Ready to shot putt

The Bling: 1 Silver and 3 Bronze's

Being filmed for British Heart Foundation
Closing Ceremony was once the Badminton Courts ;)

With Richard also an Olympic Torch Bearer
Party Party

I would like to add a quote from Lynne Holt, an incredible woman who not only is a Clinical Transplant Co-Ordinator, but also the UK Team Manager.
Lynne Holt, from TSUK, 'We are really looking forward to this year’s Transplant Games. Olympic fever has really gripped the nation. We will be selecting our Team to represent the UK at next year’s World Transplant Games, to be held in Durban. Our transplant athletes are the best in the world, running the 100m in 11.16secs and swimming 50m Freestyle in .26secs. However, all our athletes are gold medallists, in that they have all won their race for life!'

So there you have it! An insight to the Transplant Games, please pass this link on to help inform people and let's spread awareness of Organ Donation and how important it is that we too get more media to promote the goodness that there is life after life - gives hope to so many waiting for a life saving transplant.

Happy smiles to each of you. Thanks for your time reading my journal. xx

Living it Up, because I can now xx

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