Updated 29 July 2013

World Transplant Games kick off

The World Transplant Games, which increase awareness of the success of transplant surgery, are set to kick off in Durban today.


The 13th World Transplant Games are due to kick off in Durban with more than 1 800 athletes from 50 countries set to compete in the largest sporting event for recipients of donor organs.

To mark the occasion, the South African Post Office launched a series of stamps on Sunday night to commemorate the staging of the games and to raise awareness over the need for more people in the country to become organ donors.

The series of 10 stamps featuring the work of artist Peter Sibanda were unveiled at a cocktail party attended by the athletes.

It is the first time a country's postal system has had stamps designed and unveiled for the World Transplant Games. Johan van Wyk, the Post Office's Senior Manager of Philatelic Services said the Post Office had printed 30 000 sheets of the stamps. He hoped the stamps would raise awareness of organ donations and transplants.

The World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF) stages the games in a bid to increase the public's awareness of the success of transplant surgery and to increase the rate of organ donation.

Samantha Volschenk, the executive director of the Organ Donor Foundation said at any given time there were 4000 people in South Africa awaiting organ and cornea transplants, but on average only 600 transplant operations were done in a year.

'The Young and the Restless'

Howard Dell, famed for his roll as Detective Troy Hawkins in the daytime television soap opera The Young and the Restless, and a former winter Olympian, is among the athletes participating in the games.

Dell, the recipient of a liver transplant, said he was grateful for the second chance he had in life. He urged people to sign up to become organ donors.

"If you are in a position to help someone, why wouldn't you?" he asked.

The games, which are expected to generate more than R50 million for the Durban region, will finish on Saturday.

The largest contingent of athletes will come from Great Britain and Northern Ireland with 298 athletes, followed by 142 from the United States, 136 athletes from South Africa and 110 from the Netherlands.




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