Triumph at the Transplant Games

Posted on Friday 24th August 2018
Children taking part in the athletes march at the British Transplant Games opening ceremony

Molly Cass carries the Evelina VIPs' banner at the British Transplant Games opening ceremony.

A team of patients and families celebrated a triumphant trip to the British Transplant Games in Birmingham with a medal count of 61.

Evelina London’s Transplant Games team, the Evelina VIPs, is made up of patients who have received care at Evelina London following a kidney transplant. The games celebrate organ donation and aim to increase public awareness of donation. As well as being a fun competition, it’s a chance to develop support networks between patients and families and strengthen existing relationships.

The VIPs travelled to the games along with families, volunteers and staff to take part in the largest national Transplant Games in its 41 year history, with over 850 transplant recipients. The games got off to a flying start as, following an official count, it was announced that a Guinness World Record for the largest number of transplant recipients in one place had been achieved.

Our team of 35 children and young people aged five to 18 competed in sports such as swimming, tennis, table tennis, badminton, cycling and athletics. For nine it was their first Transplant Games whilst two were competing for the last time before they graduate to the adult team.

Suzanne Cass from Crawley attended the games for the first time with her daughter Molly, aged 11, and husband Dave. Molly had a transplant at Evelina London in 2017.

Suzanne said: “It’s difficult to put into words how incredibly emotional it was for us to come, and it was an honour to be part of the Evelina VIP team.

“There was an amazing bond between families, as we had all been through the journey of transplantation, and to see children of all ages come together and gel as a team was fantastic.”

The team are supported by team managers Grainne Walsh, transplant advanced nurse practitioner, Cathy Gill, senior play specialist and Pat Hayes, dispensary manager, plus 11 volunteers. Dr Nick Ware, a transplant consultant, volunteered at the games for the first time. He said: “It was incredible to see our patients and families enjoying themselves so much.

“Listening to families' stories and seeing children who were previously too unwell to run around now competing at sports was amazing. It really highlighted the positive impact that having a kidney transplant has on the lives of our patients and how important the multidisciplinary team is at getting our children through their transplants and beyond. So many patients and families told me that the games is the highlight of their year!”

Suzanne said: “I cannot fail to mention the amazing Evelina London staff who supported everyone and were amazing in their own right. We shed tears of laughter when Grainne and Will became Irish dancers, and tears of emotion watching Dr Nick wheel one of the VIPs down the track on the 5k donor run. Lastly, we had tears of pride watching the sheer determination of our children, and other children and adults, as they reached the end of their race, no matter how long it took.”

The VIPs wish to thank all who supported the team in getting to the Transplant Games. They received generous donations from the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Kidney Patients Association and Kidney Care UK.

If you would like to support the Evelina VIPs so that they can take part in next year’s Transplant Games, visit Virgin Money Giving.