Mark Brown, who lives on Grange Avenue in Ruddington, will be travelling to Banff in Canada to complete in the Winter World Transplant Games, which take place from 23rd to 28th February. 25 years after having a life-saving kidney transplant, the 52 year-old will compete as a member of Team Great Britain in the downhill and curling events.
Team GB – who’ve all had either heart, lungs, kidney, pancreas, bone marrow or liver transplants – will be competing in a variety of sports. These include slalom, parallel slalom, giant and super giant slalom, snowboard, snowshoe events and curling. Teams from around the world will be competing, including Ethiopia for the first time!
This year’s GB team is the largest to date, with 25 competitors. Six of these are live donors who are competing in the donor ski race. There are also three transplant children attending the “Nicholas Green” Camp, which takes place at the same time as the Games.
The Winter Transplant Games provides a wonderful opportunity for transplant athletes to enjoy their new lease of life and demonstrate the benefits of organ donation. Team GB members, who are managed by Transplant Sport (TSUK) – the charity responsible for the British Transplant Games – range in age from 17 year old kidney transplant recipient, George, to Sue, a heart transplant recipient aged 67.
Says Mark: “This is the eighth Winter Games I’ve competed in, having previously won medals in the giant slalom and snowboarding events. My greatest success has been at the curling rink. Whilst I’ve never curled other than when representing my country, I’ve managed to win four gold medals! Hopefully I’ll be able to retain the gold medal position but expect strong competition from America and the host country.”
Lynne Holt, Team Manager, adds: “Many of our transplant athletes have experienced near death situations and long illness, and it is very gratifying to see them able to enjoy a full life, thanks to organ donation. Without this ‘gift of life’, many of them would not now be alive.
‘Every member of Team GB has already had to ‘climb a mountain’ to get through the transplant, and with their courage and determination, will enjoy the thrills of being in the Rocky Mountains in Canada.”
Mark continues: “Whilst it’s great to win medals, the publicity from this international event will hopefully encourage others to sign on to the Organ Donor Register, but most importantly, discuss their final wishes now with their families”
More than 6,000 people in the UK are currently waiting for a transplant and sadly, three people die waiting every day. But with only 34% of the UK population registered as organ donors, more work needs to be done to raise awareness of donation and to urge those on the donor register to share their wishes with loved ones.
To register, and for more information please visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or contact the NHS Organ Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23. To join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow donor register or for further information, please visit www.anthonynolan.org.