Source: Belfast Telegraph
Belfast's turn at hosting the Westfield Health British Transplant Games has been hailed a resounding success.
Rain failed to stop play at the opening parade of the Games
With the 500 athletes on their way home, the Public Health Agency (PHA) says the Games will have a lasting impact on not only Belfast, but Northern Ireland as a whole.
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the PHA and chair of the local organising committee for the Games, said: “The Transplant Games will leave a lasting legacy for Northern Ireland. The Belfast athletes scored a spectacular treble, winning the Rosebowl trophy for the best adult team overall, with Orla Smyth picking up the award for best female athlete following her six gold medal wins.”
The Games saw around 500 athletes compete at various events over the four day period. It was a very exciting and proud time as well-wishers from across Northern Ireland travelled to sporting events and joined together to show their support for the transplant athletes and, most importantly, organ donation.
Dr Rooney continued: “Three hundred people in Northern Ireland are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Sadly, the chance of a transplant will come too late for many. It is up to each of us now to sign the Organ Donor Register and speak to our family and friends about our wishes. By giving just two minutes of our time to register today, we can help save lives – there can be no better gift than this.”
Dr Rooney thanked everyone who participated in and supported the Games for making this such a memorable event.
Health Minister Edwin Poots added: “I would ask everyone in Northern Ireland, who has not already done so, to take the simple step today of registering on the Organ Donor Register; it is one of the most generous things a human being can do to help others.”
Over 600 people took part in the parade from Belfast City Hall to the Waterfront Hall for the official opening ceremony on Thursday evening.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the evening was the arrival of dozens of donor families. As they made their way into the auditorium at the Waterfront, they were greeted by a standing ovation and loud cheers that only came to an end when the host for the evening, Stephen Watson, began to speak.
Stephen, who received a kidney from his father 21 years ago, said: “I am sure there will be many difficult times ahead but I hope you will have some experiences that show you what an important gift you have given.”
Archery competitor Johanne Tinsley (50), who had a liver transplant, said: “Words can’t describe how I feel. “I just owe my donor and their family such a debt of gratitude for their generous gift of life. I get emotional just talking about it.
“The Games just highlight the need for organs. If people would just open their eyes and realise what a fantastic gift it is, and it is a gift.”