I’ve been hard at work trying to finalize a new brochure for Team North Carolina. As part of this process, I’ve done a lot of research about the history of The Transplant Games that I thought I’d share with you.
TGA started out as the “U.S. Transplant Games” in 1990 as a way to raise awareness of the need for organ and tissue donation. They were started by the pharmaceutical company Sandoz, the predecessor company to Novartis Pharmaceuticals — even today Novartis remains a sponsor of the Games. Then a very bad thing happened: the Games, then presented by the National Kidney Foundation, were suspended at the end of the 2010 festival.
However, a driven group of transplant patients and other individuals would not quit and started to put things back together. A new nonprofit was found and the name of the event was officially changed to the “Transplant Games of America.”
Changes Over the Years
The number of competition sports at the Games has increased over the years from 12 in 2012 to 20 in 2016. The number of participants has also grown. The 2012 Games in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had 1,377 participants. 2014 in Houston, Texas had 3,764. And 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio had nearly 5,000 (7,500 including supporters). Each Transplant Games, more people and cites are exposed to the Games, more people learn about transplant and more participants are lucky enough to be a part of this amazing experience.
Cities that have hosted the Games have been chosen strategically. Texas was chosen because it had one of the lowest organ donor rates in the nation. Cleveland, Ohio fit in because of TGA’s campaign to increase awareness of the need for minority organ donors. Salt Lake City, host of the 2018 games, was chosen for more logistical reasons: good venues, lodging, transportation and accessibility.
Jessica Newport and I — managers of Team NC — hope to see as many of you as possible at the 2018 Games in Salt Lake City. Please consider joining us! The best way to stay in touch is by our monthly e-newsletter and Facebook updates.
Utah is a beautiful state, and the Transplant Games are an equally beautiful experience.
Health and happiness,
Laura P Smith, Team Co-Manager
Double Lung Recipient, 2014