126 days ago
Between 25 and 28 July 2019, over 1,000 individuals turned out in Newport to compete in the 2019 British Transplant Games.
The British Transplant Games (BTG) is the flagship competition of the charity Transplant Sport, originating over 40 years ago when the first “Transplant Olympics” took place in Portsmouth in 1978. The games are held annually, forming a, major sport and cultural event for transplant recipients and their families, with both recipients and donors competing from the ages of 3 to 80+.
Pictured: A crowd of supporters at the 2019 British Transplant Games
The games aim to demonstrate the benefits of transplantation, encourage transplant patients to regain fitness, and help to increase public awareness of the need for more people to join the NHS Organ Donation Register. The event is also an opportunity to thank and celebrate donors and the gift of life.
A man who knows the importance of transplant donation more than most is 52-year-old Ian Tennant, Sodexo UK & Ireland’s IS&T Applications & Programme Director. As a transplant recipient, Ian came out swinging at this year’s BTG, competing for the second time in two years, successfully defending his gold medals in both tennis and squash!
Some years ago, Ian was diagnosed with condition, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Unfortunately, this condition would see the deterioration of Ian’s kidneys over a long period of time and there would also be a 50% chance of passing it onto his children.
In 2017, Ian’s kidney function levels dropped below 10%. This reduced his energy levels, significantly reduced his quality of life and would mean dialysis three-times-a-week dramatically shortening his life expectancy. As a former tennis ‘South of Scotland Gents Open Singles Champion’, Ian thought he would never again take part in sport.
However, that same year, Ian received the gift of a lifetime from a live donor in the form of a kidney transplant. The live donor was none other than Ian’s eldest son, Dan.
“I’m incredibly proud of Dan. He is an amazing person, selfless, thoughtful, kind and caring. He’s the bravest man I know and an inspiration to me. He has most definitely given me my life back.”
Within six months of receiving his new kidney, Ian had noticed a significant return of his health and energy levels, giving him a route back in to sport.
“Three months after my transplant, I was able to start some light exercise, building up some fitness and within six months I was back on the squash and tennis courts competing again, feeling better than I had done for many years!”
It’s important to note that Ian’s transplant isn’t a cure, however it is the best treatment and gives him back the quality of life he deserves.
When Ian knew that a transplant was on the horizon, he set his sights on the BTG as a way of getting back into the world of competitive sport, however his main reason for taking part was to help raise awareness of the need for more organ donors and show his appreciation for those who have donated - like his son, Dan. After winning gold medals in both tennis and squash in 2018, Ian approached Sodexo to help sponsor him for the 2019 games, proudly displaying the company logo on his official kit.
Pictured: Ian being awarded his gold medal in tennis
After his double-win in July, Ian is on his way to the 2019 World Transplant Games (WTG) in Newcastle where over 3,000 people are expected to compete. With only a couple of weeks to go, he is training hard for his next big tennis and squash matches:
“I have been told that there are some good squash players from New Zealand, Germany and Holland, together with tough competition in tennis from Spain, Italy, Sweden and Germany – I’m expecting it to be challenging to get onto the medal podium!”
Since receiving his transplant, Ian continues to be a strong advocate for donors, their families and the promotion of joining the NHS Organ Donation register. In the UK alone, over 6,250 people are currently awaiting organ transplants*. Ian says:
“Not everyone is as lucky as I am – the reality is that in the UK in 2018, over 400 mothers, fathers, sons and daughters died before the right donor was found. With a population of around 66 million in the UK, noone should die waiting for an organ transplant, noone should even be on a waiting list.”
Ian hopes that his story and his determination at this year’s BTG and WTG will inspire you to join the register - you can show your support and sign up here.
We wish Ian all the best at the WTG in August – good luck!
For more information or support on PKD, please visit:
*Source: Organ Donation NHS UK - https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/helping-you-to-decide/about-organ-donation/statistics-about-organ-donation/
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