Shaun Thomas, 29-year-old renal youth worker and one of the British Transplant Games team managers, is supporting transplant recipients across Wales for this year’s 2019 Westfield Health British Transplant Games in Newport.
The Games will be held from 25 - 28 July 2019, attracting around 1000 transplant recipient athletes and over 1,500 supporters and families to the city.
Organised on behalf of the charity Transplant Sport UK, the aim of the Games is to raise awareness of organ donation and to celebrate the gift of life.
Shaun, from Swansea, is one of eight team managers working closely with adults and children from across Wales who are training for the sporting event this summer.
Shaun said: “This is the fourth year I’ve been part of the team working alongside the athletes training for the British Transplant Games and this year it’s more exciting than ever to see it being held here in Wales.
“We see a number of people competing, whatever stage they are in, from people who have received a transplant, people who have donated an organ, to people who are on dialysis and waiting for an organ.
“We encourage recipients to remain active – as much as they physically can – following transplant, and so my role as team manager is to help with exercise, nutrition and support to help them with their training for the competition.
“In my day job as a renal youth worker at University Hospital of Wales (UHW) and Morriston Hospital Swansea, I care for children and young adults living with a chronic renal condition. Day-to-day I meet young people who have suddenly been given the news that their health may restrict what they can do.
“Training for the British Transplant Games is a way to help them get back into sports and is often the thing that gets these young people through a challenging time in their lives. It really can be life-changing.
“By competing in the Games, we hope to show people that although they may feel that their capabilities are limited because of their health condition, that is absolutely not the case, and people can achieve incredible things if they put their mind to it. We want to show people that even if you are suffering from a chronic renal condition, your life doesn’t have to be on-hold. You can still live a healthy, exciting life, and can inspire others to do the same.”
The 2019 Westfield Health British Transplant Games is an annual event and this year takes places in Wales for the first time, meaning even more Welsh athletes can take part. There is no selection criteria and athletes can sign-up to compete in around 25 sporting categories.
There are still 232 patients in Wales waiting for a transplant. In 2018, 16 patients died while on the active waiting list.
Organ Donation Wales is urging people to talk to their families about this important subject. If more people have the chat with their families about their organ donation decision, even more lives could be saved.
Wales became the first country in the UK to introduce a soft opt-out system - which means that everyone over 18 who has not registered their organ donation decision will be treated as having no objection to being a donor if they die.
If you would like to join the Wales team at the Westfield Health British Transplant Games in Newport this summer, please contact The Welsh Transplant Team at 07866810401 -
You can register a decision on organ donation at any time at any age by calling 0300 123 23 23 or visiting https://beta.gov.wales/talk-about-organ-donation-campaign or by telling your family and friends.