Former track athlete discusses organ donation with World Transplant Games competitors

28th March 2019

In Conversation event at intu Metrocentre with Steve Cram credit North News

With less than five months to go to the opening of the World Transplant Games 2019 (WTG2019) in NewcastleGateshead, Steve Cram, former track and field athlete, and athletics commentator, welcomed Team GB athletes to discuss organ donation and the importance of the World Transplant Games.

The ‘In Conversation’ event at intu Metrocentre on Monday 25 March aimed to shine the spotlight on the inspirational Games and encourage people not only to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, but critically, inform their family members of their wishes.

Steve Cram said: “I am delighted to support the World Transplant Games which are coming to the region this Summer. They are a true celebration of a second chance of life as all participants have had life-saving transplants, are live donors or members of donor families. Many people don’t realise that their family’s support is needed for organ donation to go ahead and a few words can make all the difference. I’ve shared my wishes with my family and urge others to do the same, so that their family aren’t left guessing if the worst happens.

Steve added: “It was a pleasure to meet with the volunteers, donor families and athletes today, to hear their incredible stories and share some training tips with them. I’ve competed at Gateshead International Stadium many times and I was always really proud and excited to have a home crowd behind me. The NewcastleGateshead Games are on track to be the best ever!

Lynne Holt, Team GB Manager said: “We are looking forward to welcoming around 2500 participants from over 60 countries who will be competing at venues across the North East. Team GB is the largest team with 350 athletes which includes 35 juniors and 15 live donors. The most senior GB team member is Mike Gibbons, 83 years young from Skipton, competing in squash and long distance running and the youngest is 9 year old swimmer Phoebe Pace from Low Fell. All of the athletes are winners having survived debilitating illnesses, getting through transplant surgery and are now fit for life – thanks to donors and their families supporting their decision to donate. Transplant Sport and the World Transplant Games Federation promote the importance of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle post-transplant. My team are so excited to be competing in front of a home crowd and are committed to training hard with the ultimate goal of winning medals for their country and in thanks to their donors.

Graham Moore, Chairman at Westfield Health, a lead sponsor of the games said: “The World Transplant Games is a fantastic initiative which raises awareness of such an important cause. It showcases the importance of transplants and the inspirational stories of those who have received them.

“Events like ‘In Conversation’ are crucial to raise awareness of organ donation and the importance of informing family members of any decisions. We really hope that this encourages more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register to help save lives.”

Carole Stonehouse, from the WTG2019 Organising Committee said: “There are currently 6082 people waiting for a transplant in the UK and every day 3 people die because not enough organs are available. For some people it might not be a comfortable conversation to have, so seeing a high-profile personality such as Steve Cram talking about organ donation in a very public setting at intu Metrocentre, will we believe encourage others to sit down and start that conversation – it could save and transform up to 9 lives!”

One of the biggest events in the North East of England in 2019, The World Transplant Games take place from 17-24 August. The Games are delivered by destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGatesehead Initiative in partnership with a range of stakeholders on behalf of the World Transplant Games Federation and the lead sponsor is Westfield Health.

Liz Schick, British born WTGF Honorary Secretary said “When I heard in 1997 that I needed a liver transplant I thought that life would never be the same again. I was totally wrong. It is an honour to be able to work with the federation to not only organise these events but to take part in the competitions and give hope to people on transplant waiting lists and pay hommage to donors from everywhere in the world and, at the same time get recipients and their families active.”

For more information on the Games, organ donation, volunteering and how you can get involved in fundraising events including the Gift of Life and Sage 6k fun runs go to worldtransplantgames.org.