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May 7th 2019

World Transplant Games kicks off with NewcastleGateshead conference

Heather Lishman image by Heather Lishman

Taking place 17 August at King’s Hall on Newcastle University Campus, the conference called “Life Saver to Life Changer” is themed around celebrating the impact of organ donation and transplantation and will attract over 170 clinicians, academics, sports scientists, physiotherapists and athletes from around the world.

Transplant and donation professionals, recipients and donors alike will attend a symposium and a variety of workshops to examine the contribution of Newcastle, its hospitals and university to the field of transplantation medicine and the use of exercise and health promotion as part of a healthy lifestyle following organ transplantation.

It’s set to be an inspiring day with presentations from World Transplant Games athletes, transplant researchers and leading transplant clinicians from the North East and across the UK, such as internationally renowned transplant surgeons, John Dark and Derek Manas of the UK’s very first Institute of Transplantation at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

The keynote speaker of the conference will be the globally recognised cardiologist Sanjay Sharma from St George’s Hospital London who is also the Medical Director of the London Marathon.

Paul Szomoru, Director of Business Events at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming delegates to NewcastleGateshead for the World Transplant Games symposium 2019. We’re proud to have some of the country’s top medical professionals and academic research institutions right here on our doorstep and not only does hosting this event build on the region’s reputation as a leading authority in transplantation, but the message of the games and symposium is so powerful and inspiring.

“The lasting impact of the World Transplant Games will be phenomenal, and this will be maximised through the symposium, especially the public engagement element, encouraging members of the public to become donors not just from within NewcastleGateshead but throughout the UK.

“The symposium is so much more than a general conference or meeting. It’s an opportunity to share subject leading knowledge and inspiring stories – and by encouraging donation and the conversations around it, we can help save lives.”

Andrew Fisher, Dean of Clinical Medicine at Newcastle University and Chair of the Conference said: “As well as attracting experts on transplantation from around the world, the conference at Newcastle University will help us achieve our aims of increasing awareness of the importance of organ donation and how the UK law is changing next year as well as encouraging transplant recipients to regain their fitness after transplant surgery.”

Alongside the conference will be a public engagement event at The Boiler House and Union Lawn, Newcastle University Campus, where members of the public can take part in a huge range of activities, designed to test and measure their strength and fitness.

Participants will get the opportunity to meet experts in sports and exercise science from Newcastle University and learn about how fitness is measured and optimised, while helping to celebrate the impact that organ donation has on the life of transplant recipients.

Professor Fisher added: “The public engagement event will encourage conversations around the topic of organ donation especially with families and loved ones, as its critical people share their views on organ donation so their wishes can be respected.”

The first competitive sporting event for transplant recipients took place in Portsmouth, England in 1978 with around 99 competitors from the UK, France, Germany, Greece and the USA. Today, the Summer World Transplant Games is held every two years and the Winter Games in the intervening years.

In 1987 the World Transplant Games Federation was officially formed and now has nearly 70 member countries worldwide.

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