The Stadium will host the opening ceremony, with more than 2,000 participants aged from four to 80 expected to come from around the world to celebrate the second chance at life they have received through organ transplantation.
The transplant recipients were joined by World Transplant Games Federation President and Chief Executive Officer, Transplant Australia, Chris Thomas, taking on an adrenalin-pumping climb to the top of Optus Stadium and walking (and in some cases swinging!) on the Vertigo platform, which is suspended 42m above the playing field. One recipient, Colleen, who is legally blind, even took her assistance dog, Rhian, and she was the first animal ever on the roof of the stadium.
“I wasn’t too sure about it at first,” said Wendy, one of the transplant recipients. “But I’m so glad I did. It was an awesome experience and being able to share it with other transplant recipients made it even more special. I may have even cured my fear of heights.”
They were then joined by Western Australian Deputy Premier Roger Cook and City of Perth Mayor Basil Zemplas to mark the milestone for the world’s largest organ donation awareness event.
Mr Thomas said he believed the World Transplant Games to be the world’s most inspirational sporting event.
“The Games promote the greatest gift of all – the gift of life – and is an opportunity to thank the donors who make transplantation possible, and encourage transplant recipients to embrace an active, healthy lifestyle post-transplant,” Mr Thomas said.
“This event carries a powerful message to encourage more people to register as organ donors – as currently more than 1,700 Australians are desperately waiting for an organ transplant.”
Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Roger Cook said the WA Government was proud to be bringing the event to Perth next year, and to showcase our beautiful city on a global stage, to the World Transplant Games community.
“This event will provide an incredible platform for these extraordinary athletes to come together and inspire all Australians, and remind us of the importance of organ donation and embracing physical fitness at all stages of life,” Mr Cook said.
“The 2023 World Transplant Games will drive thousands of out-of-state visitors to WA, inject millions into the local economy and most importantly, further elevate WA on a global stage as a world-class host of major sporting and cultural events of all kinds.”
Perth resident Colleen Ashby was one of the transplant recipients to take on the Vertigo Rooftop challenge today.
Ms Ashby lost her sight following a life-saving heart transplant in 2015. Six months after the operation, she found out about the Australian Transplant Games and set herself a goal to compete in swimming.
Despite an interrupted training schedule due to pool closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, and two shoulder replacements, Colleen is now one of hundreds of Australian athletes in training for the Perth World Transplant Games.
“For me it’s not about winning, it’s about getting to know other people in the same situation as me and showing people that we can still live life and make the best out of the gift of life we’ve been given, trying things we have never done before,” Colleen said.
The call for volunteers for the Games has also opened, with hundreds required in a variety of roles from administration, health care, interpreters, registration and transport.
To find out more about the World Transplant Games, and how you can participate, visit www.worldtransplantgames.org