World Transplant Olympics 2015 { 20 images } Created 20 Jul 2015

On the 23rd August this year thousands of organ transplant patients and live donors will arrive in Argentina, to compete in the twentieth World Transplant Olympics.

This year athletes from seventy countries will enroll in the Games, with emphasis placed on history as an organ recipient or donor, not necessarily athletic achievement. During this weeklong event, stories of kidney, lung, heart, bone marrow, and liver transplants are the norm.

Patients come from every background and ethnicity, but are united in their present situation. All have suffered severe injury or illness leading to the failure of vital organs - bacterial meningitis, cystic fibrosis, cancer, liver disease, and alcoholism. All have waited on various life support machines for a matching donor, with time running out and no certainty of success.

They bear scars of the past – abdominal lesions from an age of less efficient harvesting, angry puckered flesh eaten to the bone by meningitis, giant bubbling strictures that protrude from the forearm after prolonged dialysis. Many have tattoos dedicated to their donors or life itself, “Live Life To The Full,” “Unstoppable,” and “Donate Life 12-13-93.”

Now all Transplant Olympians deal with the concept of a stable present, but a very uncertain future. They are plagued by the side effects of immunosuppressant drugs used for organ rejection prevention, and the anatomical impact of past disease. Their medication complicates the body’s ability to regulate temperature and weight, promotes unwanted hair growth, and reduces the immune system to the level a terminal HIV patient.

The Transplant Olympics provide a celebration of life, humanity, sporting achievement, and encouragement through rehabilitation, offering patients a global and long-term network of support.

In the cycling halls, swimming pools, and athletic stadiums of the Transplant Olympics, space is filled with national colors. Supporting families wave flags, shout slogans, and cheer for anyone and everyone. Infant athletes swap souvenirs with seniors, backgrounds are explained, and medical conditions discussed. Lifelong relationships are cemented here.
View: 25 | All