England’s top doctor, Professor Stephen Powis, has sent a message of support to Team GB athletes competing in the World Transplant Games this weekend, and joined with them in thanking the donors and skilled NHS teams who made it possible.
The NHS’ national medical director, who worked as a kidney transplant specialist, also revealed that a record 1,600 people donated their organs after their death last year, helping to save or improve the lives of nearly 4,000 people.
Over the last five years the NHS has performed almost 20,000 transplant operations, and is now ramping up preparations to ensure that when Max and Keira’s Law – which changes the organ donation register to an opt-out system – comes into effect next year, even more people can benefit.
Professor Powis said: “Transplants,the organ donors and NHS teams who make them possible, give people a second chance at life. Every member of Team GB embodies that, and I’m sure I speak for NHS staff across the country when I say we’ll be cheering our athletes on every step of the way.
“NHS transplant teams across England have changed the lives of almost 20,000 people over the last few years, and as we look forward to Max and Keira’s Law coming into effect they are working to ensure the NHS is ready to change thousands more in years to come.”
Taking place in Newcastle, the games will see Team GB go head to head with the best athletes from across the globe who have also had a transplant.
Activities start this weekend, with both adult and junior competitors lining up in a range of sports such as athletics, cycling, golf, swimming and tennis.
Mike Grundy is representing Team GB in Tennis at the World Games, having won gold earlier this summer at the British games. He praised the NHS, saying without the expertise of the teams of professionals involved in his care he would not have been able to attend the games.
Mike said: “Achieving all this would not have been possible without the care and expertise of the NHS, with both the Churchill at Oxford and the Royal Berkshire Hospital at Reading excelling in transforming my condition and bringing me back to full health.
“The Transplant Games have given me the drive to further develop my fitness, the opportunity to appreciate the challenges faced by so many others, and the platform to shout about the need for organ donation and the life-saving results it consistently delivers.”
Max and Keira’s Law will come into effect from Spring 2020, after a successful campaign from their parents and millions of others aiming to tackle the tragic fact that somebody dies every day in the UK while waiting for a donor organ.
From next Spring, people will be assumed to agree to be an organ donor when they die, unless they have recorded a decision that says otherwise or are in an excluded group.
The NHS in England is working with NHS Blood and Transplant, the British Transplantation Society and hospital transplant teams to ensure as many pledged organs can be successfully transplanted as possible over the coming years.
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “It’s wonderful to see so many athletes who have experienced the lifesaving benefits of organ donation and transplantation coming together to compete and celebrate the healthy life their organ transplant has given them.
“Everyday lives are saved and transformed through organ transplantation and raising awareness of organ donation has never been more important – particularly with the law about organ donation changing in England and Scotland next year.
“I wish Team GB all the best at the World Transplant Games and hope their achievements in the Games and commitment to raising the profile of organ donation will inspire others to have their donation conversation with those closest to them and make their choices known.”
Read more about some of the competitors here: