‘A hugely inspiring event’. That’s the view of Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet member for Communities and Culture as the World Transplant Games draw to a close this weekend.
Sunderland hosted swimming at Sunderland Aquatic Centre, cycling at Hetton Lyons Country Park, and ten pin bowling at Hollywood Bowl Washington during the Games’ visit to the North East.
City landmarks have also been lit up all week in red white and blue, the colours of the World Transplant Games to raise awareness of organ donation.
Commenting on the games, Councillor Kelly, said: “Hosting World Transplant Games competitions in Sunderland has been a huge honour. I don’t think I’ve ever come across so many inspirational people in one place. There was an incredible buzz at all three events in Sunderland and I’m sure it was the same at the other events across the north east too.
“Everyone taking part has come through so much to grasp a second chance of living life to the full and each and every one of them has their own amazing story to tell.
“It’s been a hugely inspiring event for Sunderland and the North East celebrating the gift of life, courage and physical fitness.
“We know that at any one time there are around 5,900 people on the transplant waiting list and on average three people die every day who could have benefited from organ donation.
“The games are all about raising public awareness and acceptance of organ donation and I hope that people will have been inspired to sign up to become an organ donor and to talk to their loved ones about their wishes.”
The World Transplant Games attracted more than 2,300 participants aged from four to 80+, from 56 countries during their week long stay in the North East with 16 sports being held across Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland.
Councillor Kelly was also keen to pay tribute to the organisers, the volunteers and the venues.
He said: “Organising such a huge event with so many people from so many different countries is no mean feat and its only right to pay tribute to everyone who has pulled out all the stops to make the games happen and help make this such a memorable event.”
In Spring 2020 organ donation in England will move to an ‘opt out’ system. Find out how to register as an organ donor and more information on the changes at https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/