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
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
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.