Colzium House in Kilsyth was the venue for the official launch of the 2017 Westfield Health British Transplant Games.
The four-day event, which will be held at venues across North Lanarkshire in July, will welcome around 1,000 competitiors and benefit the local economy by around £2million.
However, the real reason for the games, as was emphasised by every speaker at today’s event, is as a “celebration of life” – to show how transformational transplants can be and encourage more donors to register.
Councillor Jim McCabe, who led North Lanarkshire’s successful bid for the Games, said: “It is a magnificent honour for our county to host the Westfield Health British Transplant Games in 2017.
“It gives me immense pride to welcome the wider Games family to North Lanarkshire, the support everyone has shown us today paints a strong picture of things to come.
“Following on from the success of the 2011 International Children’s Games and more recently as host and training venue of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, supporting the Westfield Health British Transplant Games is a hugely worthwhile commitment and one that North Lanarkshire is proud to make.
The athletes competing in the games will cover an entire spectrum of age groups, with the youngest being toddlers, and every single one has had a transplant which transformed or saved their life. In Scotland 43 per cent of adults are registered organ donors, making it one of the most generous areas in the UK, but in North Lanarkshire alone there are 44 people urgently in need of an organ donation.
The event is also well attended by the families of donors, who are now grateful that the tragic loss of their loved ones has enabled others to live. Lanarkshire woman Lily Turley spoke at the launch about the pride she felt in knowing her son’s liver was given to a 17-year-old girl who recovered from Wilson’s Disease and became a nurse.
Entrants are of all ages from young children upwards, and all of them have received a transplant. The Games, which were first held in 1978, allow transplant recipients to show how their new organs have transformed their lives, while the families of donors can get a sense of what their loved one’s gift really means.
For more information, such as how to become a Games sponsor or volunteer, visit www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk. To register as an organ donor visit www.organdonationscotland.org.