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19 OCTOBER 2018

2018 Transplant Games Represented by ALF’s Desert Southwest Division

October 19, 2018

The American Liver Foundation’s Desert Southwest Division served as ALF’s official representatives at this year’s Transplant Games of America held in Salt Lake City, Utah from August 2nd to 7th.

The Transplant Games of America is a festival-style event with medaling competition, open to recipients of life-supporting allografts (heart, intestine, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas) and corneal, bone marrow, and tissue transplants.

Recipients must have been transplanted for at least nine months, with stable graft function, be medically fit and have trained in the events in which they have registered. All competitors must be medically approved by their physician to compete. There are two divisions of competitors–Division I for solid organ recipients, and Division II for living donors, corneal, tissue, and bone marrow recipients.

Over 7,000 attendees including competitors, cheerleaders, donor families, supporters, and sponsors, joined together in Salt Lake City’s downtown area to enjoy a breathtaking, emotional, and vital event. A reported 3,600-plus attendees were competing in the games and a Guinness Book of World Records, ‘record’ was broken at the Games for the greatest number of organ transplant recipients in one place at one time.

“We were not sure what to expect, but we quickly realized the importance of our presence. We were able to connect with hundreds and hundreds of people who were thrilled to see us there, hear about what we do, and ask how they could help. We learned of areas of the country with great need, especially Florida, the Southern States, the Alleghenies, and the Pacific Northwest. We learned about areas of opportunity for us as a foundation. We listened, we exchanged, we made a promise to continue to grow and always strive to do a better job for all those we serve,” said Gina Bartes, the Division’s Executive Director.

Darryl Ellis, a participant, expressed his feelings about the experience, “I got home Wednesday morning; I caught up on some rest yesterday and part of today, and now I feel empty! I miss all of the bonding, I miss being in one Spirit with everyone, I miss being with new people and making new friends! The past 7 days truly reminded me of when I worked on cruise ships; you start the week in fast forward, energized, eager to go on to the next thing, and by the end, you’re just trying to get through the next function and you can’t wait to get home, come back down to earth and rest… and a day later, you miss it all so much! I miss it like that!“

Tom Nealon
President & CEO
American Liver Foundation


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