The Transplant Games of America is a 5-day celebration of life and triumph after organ transplantation held every two years.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everyone touched by transplant.

Most who go fall in love and are excited to return to their TGA “family” year after year.

Who goes to the Transplant Games?

The Transplant Games of America (TGA) is a five-day gathering of organ transplant recipients, living donors, deceased and living donor family members, caregivers, friends and family, members of the medical community and more — anyone with a connection to, who supports, or who has been touched by organ transplantation. Most participants come with one of the 45 or so teams, like Team NC!

Transplant Games Magic

Transplant recipients mingle

with members of donor families…


before, each only knew

a chronic health struggle

with a surprise happy ending,

or a story of sadness

ending in a selfless gesture;

a beautifully complex perspective emerges,

adding a richness of understanding

to their own story.

TGA has three divisions for competition


for solid organ recipients, like heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, intestine


for living donors, cornea, tissue and bone marrow recipients


for donor families and living donor families (new in 2020)

What can I compete in?

Qualifying athletes may choose five of the following individual sports:

badmintonsingles and doubles
ballroom dancing
bowlingsingles and doubles
golfsingles, doubles, mixed doubles
Lyrics for Lifesinging competition
pokerTexas Hold ’em tournament
swimmingindividual and relays
table tennissingles and doubles
tennissingles and doubles
track & fieldindividual and relay events
“virtual” triathlon event Totals the 1,500-meter run, 500-yard freestyle swim, and 20 km cycle race
Youth Olympiadfor those 10 and under

sports may vary from year to year

trivia challengesmall group team event
team basketball women’s, men’s, co-ed, youth 1/2 court

team volleyball

may vary from year to year

The level of seriousness at the Games varies by sport, but the general spirit is that everyone is there to compete and have fun, not necessarily to win!

How do I win a medal?

Athletes compete within their divisions and then by both age and sex. Learn more about the rules.

What else is there to do?

  • The Games always begin with an Opening Ceremony that includes a Parade of Athletes and team members. The parade ends with a solemn and respectful procession of donor family members who process with photos, signs, and momentos of their lost loved ones.
  • Pin trading is a big deal! Every team that comes brings a pin that represents the place they come from (think Georgia peach, Wisconsin cheese, Maine lobster). Pin trading is done as a way to get participants talking to people from other teams, but it can easily turn into a bit of an obsession.
  • Donor Family Tribute. Without organ donors, would be no Transplant Games. This ceremony honors, remembers, and celebrates those who passed away and chose to be organ donors. A new, Living Donor Tribute, will celebrate these special individuals.
  • The Quarter Century Club Dinner is a separate, ticketed dinner and dancing celebration for organ recipients who have lived 25 years with their transplants. It’s a very exclusive club! And all are welcome to join.
  • Educational Workshops are a part of every Transplant Games. Topics from the past include “How to tell your transplant story,” “Preventing skin cancer for the transplant patient,” and “How to eat healthy after transplant.” They are super informative smaller group gatherings and are a great time to ask the experts!
  • The Transplant Village is a dedicated area for sponsor and supporter booths. It’s a great place to pick-up transplant-related swag as well as shop for Donate Life and other TGA merchandise.

How much does it cost, and can Team NC help?

  • Register early. Early bird registration for runs about $150 for adult athletes and $40 for supporters; closer to the Games, $200 — our team makes every effort to fundraise so that every athlete can be reimbursed $150 toward their registration. A few special events have separate ticketing costs, including the Quarter Century Club dinner, the 5k Run (which is open to anyone!), and special outings in the host city. All attendees must register for the Games.
  • Travel to and from the Games (flight, train, driving costs) and 5 days of lodging are the bulk of expense (and cost varies greatly year to year). An average estimate for this is about $1,500/person. Team NC’s financial grants, which change based on fundraising and size of the team, may be able to provide reimbursement of up to $1,000/participant toward travel, lodging, and other approved expenses. Save money by using frequent flier miles, hotel rewards, bunking with team members, renting a place farther from the hub of activity, and by making reservations early.
  • Transportation and food are expenses that can vary a lot from person-to-person and depending on the location. Plan on $50/day for food. Save money on food by cooking your own meals in a hotel suite or apartment with a kitchenette, or by staying at a hotel that offers free breakfast. Transportation includes going back and forth to the Transplant Village, the main hub of activity and site of many sporting competitions; travel to and from event venues for sports like swimming, track, and golf; and going to team meetups, going out to eat, and sightseeing. Save money on transportation by staying within walking distance to the Transplant Village hub, local restaurants and shops, and transit line stops; and by carpooling, sharing car services, using public transportation, and taking the TGA shuttles to sporting event venues during the Games.
  • Plan to have some extra money for emergencies, if possible, and as much as you’d like to spend on souvenirs, tickets for area attractions, parking, cabs, and other miscellaneous things. Also, many team members use traveling to the Transplant Games as a jumping off point for additional travel.


To increase awareness of the life-restoring importance of organ, cornea, bone marrow, and tissue donation through the lives of the athlete-recipients and the lasting legacy of their donors.


To involve the entire transplant community — recipients, living donors, donor families, medical professionals, caregivers, transplant centers, etc. — in a shared mission to highlight the benefits of donation.


To increase the number of potential donors on the National Donate Life Registry by supporting existing campaigns, putting on the Transplant Games, and with other partnerships.


To help carry out the Transplant Game’s mission, Team NC has liaisons dedicated to organ and tissue donor registration, minority donor outreach and awareness, and cornea and tissue donation.

Team Videos


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