Thursday, May 19, 2011

No U.S. Transplant Games in 2012

After my heart transplant in 2007, I participated in the U.S. Transplant Games in both 2008 (Pittsburgh, PA) and 2010 (Madison, WI). Last Friday, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) sent out the e-mail below to games participants stating that The Games will not be held in 2012.


WilI Re-Examine Model in Light of Economic Conditions,
Programs to Encourage Organ Donation Continue.

The National Kidney Foundation will not be hosting the U.S. Transplant Games in 2012.

“For 20 years,” says NKF CEO John Davis, “the NKF U.S. Transplant Games have educated the public about the life-saving power of organ donation and dramatically demonstrated that those with transplants can and do lead normal and active lives. But the Games represent a multi-million dollar expense for the foundation,” he explains, “that also requires a significant commitment of staff resources.”

“Now,” Davis says, “when most Americans view transplantation as almost routine surgery that restores life, we will re-examine the format and financial structure of the Games, to achieve maximum impact and to ensure sustainability going forward. As always, we will work with a range of constituents and supporters to accomplish this.”

Since 1990, the biennial Olympic-style event has served to showcase the success of transplantation, promote health and fitness for transplant recipients and recognize and honor donor families and living donors.

“We want to thank the thousands of transplant athletes, living donors, donor families, medical professionals, supportive family members and volunteers who have worked so hard to make the NKF U.S. Transplant Games so successful over the years,” says NKF Senior Vice President for Programs Gigi Politoski.

“Special thanks to dozens of corporate sponsors for their support of the Games and our athletes. We could not have conducted the U.S. Transplant Games for 20 years without their generosity and enthusiasm and look forward to their continuing participation and partnership as we explore ways to restructure the Games.”

NKF will continue to direct its resources to helping ensure that every American who needs a transplant receives one. NKF’s far-reaching END THE WAIT! initiative offers a comprehensive action plan to address the shortage of available kidneys for transplant and to end the wait for those on the list by instituting best practices across the country and eliminating barriers to organ donation.

In addition to END THE WAIT!, NKF will continue to offer print and on-line publications and other resources for transplant recipients, donor families and living donors. A full range of educational materials can be found on the NKF website – Perspective living donors, transplant recipients, and donor families can also access the NKF Cares patient information help line.

For complete information about donation and transplantation please visit To participate in NKF’s on-going programs and services, click here.

My friends and family know that I'm not one to mince words. I generally speak my mind and call it like I see it. So, I'm not gonna hold back on this "announcement" either even though the NKF is a great organization which provides needed, beneficial services for a lot of people.

I felt that the e-mail was rather tacky and insensitive. I was appalled by the statement by NKF CEO John Davis that a transplant has become "... almost routine surgery." Apparently he has not had a transplant. If he had, he would understand why thousands of us transplant recipients can testify to the fact that it's anything but "routine." Perhaps he should try it sometime to see for himself how "routine" it is. It's not a walk in the park. Furthermore, if transplantation is so "routine," why do approximately 19 Americans still die every single day because the right donor match doesn't come in time ? Does that sound "routine" to you ? He also implies in his statement that the U.S. Transplant Games are no longer relevant as a tool for raising public awareness about the importance of organ donation. He's wrong. At each of The Games I've attended, the local community was impacted very positively for the cause of organ and tissue donation. In my opinion, Davis' comments show that he is out of touch with reality in regards to organ transplants and that someone else should be the NKF CEO.

I hope The Games resume someday. However, I suspect that in order for that to happen some substantial corporate sponsorship(s) will have to be secured. I don't think that's likely to happen anytime soon.
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