The World Transplant Games Federation has commenced a Hall of Fame to honour long-standing competitors, as well as individuals who have played an integral part of the leadership of the World Transplant Games Federation. The below information highlights the categories and these special individuals.
Kathleen Gerlach started going to the World Transplant Games in 1980 when it was in New York City, USA.
The 2021 Virtual World Transplant Games, 5k AnyWay marked her 18th World Transplant Games. Since the games first started, Kathleen has only ever missed 3 of the games. Kathleen proclaims that these games have been the best experiences in her life. Kathleen was only 25 years old at her first World Transplant Games in 1980.
Kathleen is so thankful for her gift of life, which has been with her now for an inspirational 47 years! Congratulations Kathleen!
Athanasia was born in 1958 in Athens. Nephritis gave its first signs at the age of 6. In 1978 she underwent a kidney transplant, with her mother as her donor. Her life soon changed.
She became the founding member of the Greek Transplant Sports Team, taking part in Greek Games, European Games, and World Transplant Games, winning various medals in athletics and ping-pong. With an academic major in Laboratory Studies, she worked for 30 years in a Public Hospital and has been doing volunteer work in various organisations promoting organ and tissue donation and being active post-transplant.
The Games in Málaga was Athanasia’s 17th World Transplant Games, making her the official athlete to have attended the most World Transplant Games to date at those games. Congratulations on this amazing achievement!
Heather Edgell is one of organ and tissue donation’s most inspiring success stories. In 1979, after being on dialysis for 2 difficult years, Heather was one of the first people to receive the gift of life in Australia when she underwent a kidney transplant at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. Now, 43 years later, Heather has raised her two sons and has 6 grandchildren.
She’s won a staggering 100 Transplant Games medals for athletics, bowling, pétanque and swimming. In 1993, she broke the Transplant Games World Record in her age group in swimming events. She’s seen the world, representing her country at every World Transplant Games since 1987. Her participation in the World Transplant Games has taken Heather to Austria, Japan, South Africa, Canada, Hungary, France, Thailand, England, Sweden, Singapore, and Argentina. Malaga was her 16th World Transplant Games.
On the home front, Heather has been volunteering her time, teaching the disabled how to bowl, and promoting organ and tissue donation for many years. This incredible life, this amazing woman, was made possible all because a person and a family said “yes” to organ donation.
Heather plans to attend the 2023 World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia, making this games her 17th World Transplant Games.
Erika Kokol (Langbauer) is a three times kidney transplanted recipient – 1979, 1992, and 1999.
After her very first transplant she was able to participate in sports and has now attended 17 Summer World Transplant Games. She has also attended nine Winter World Transplant Games. Her achievement at these games has been incredible with various medals won in Table Tennis at almost every single Games.
Erika was also the founding member of the Austrian Transplant Sports Association in 1984, and for many years, the President and Country Representative at the World Transplant Games. Erika continues to promote organ donation and the need for exercise post-transplant.
Liz was born in 1970 and contracted Henoch Schonlein Purpura in 1988, leading to her kidney transplant from her mother, Christine, in 1990.
A professional freelance musician and Professor of Double Bass at one of the World’s leading music Conservatoires in London, Liz has always made time to compete in both the British and World Transplant Games since 1991. Her first World Games in Vancouver 1993 fuelled her passion for competing, and she has attended every World Games since, managing to have her 2 daughters Harriet and Heidi in between Games in 2002 and 2004. Perth 2023 will be Liz’s 16th World Transplant Games.
Winning over 60 World medals of various colours, Liz has competed in Racquet Sports, Field Athletics, Swimming and Team Games such as Volleyball, Floorball and Kayaking. She has also been British Team Captain twice.
Liz’s joie de vivre is bringing people together and embracing transplantation through sport.
Judit always had a keen interest in sport and wanted to be a PE teacher from an early age. At 16 she knew that she was going to need a kidney transplant and she decided to be proactive in her own care by keeping active and reading up on all the information available.
Judit received her kidney transplant 23 years ago and was recovering from some post-transplant complications when she met a girl who had been to the World Transplant Games in Manchester in 1995. On hearing about the opportunities offered in transplant sports she was immediately hooked and travelled to the 1997 Games in Sydney. In 1999 she was a member of the LOC for the World Transplant Games in Budapest. In the following year she got involved in the development of the European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Federation.
In the years since, Judit has competed at the World Transplant Summer and Winter Games as well as the European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships on many occasions – she is a fantastic swimmer and has also been very successful in cross-country skiing.
Judit has served on the Council of the World Transplant Games Federation and she continues to hold the role of President of the European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Federation. Throughout her sporting career she has helped ensure that Hungary is at the fore-front of transplant and dialysis sport, devoting a huge amount of her personal time to encouraging others to get involved in transplant sport.
Mr. Olivier Coustere from France served as the WTGF President from 2004 until 2015, a period of 12 years. Prior to this he held the position of Executive Secretary (1995 – 2003) and a councillor (1993 – 1994). Olivier currently continues his work with the Federation as a councillor.
Olivier, who has had three kidney transplants (1982, 1994 & 2006) is also the founder of Trans-Forme, the French Transplant & Dialysis Sports Federation, and has been actively involved with them for the past 27 years. Read more about Olivier Coustere.
Heather Fisher is a household name in the world of transplantation in Canada. As the second longest surviving liver transplant recipient of 36 years, (April 1983), Heather continues to live life to the fullest, while supporting organ donation awareness events in her community and beyond.
She is a trail blazing pioneer, and retired nurse, who in her second chance at life:
In addition to transplant games, Heather competes in national and international Masters field events, having recently taken up throwing things: javelin, discus and shot put!
Heather continues to inspire others and is living proof that transplants work.
Peter Griffin was a British physician who played a key role in developing the World Transplant Games Federation over the course of almost thirty years of service. Working with Maurice Slapak, Peter’s key contributions to the organization were his attention to the details of the Federation’s activities and his passion for sports. He believed that the World Transplant Games should always illustrate the best of athletics and sport, and that an athlete’s desire to excel should only be exceeded by his honor as a sportsman.
Karl Handschuch was lieutenant colonel at German Bundeswehr when he fell ill with a severe kidney disease. Fortunately ,after a difficult period on dialysis, he was transplanted with a donor kidney. Almost immediately Karl started training to improve his physical activity. Karl traveled with a small group of German kidney recipients to Portesmouth/UK, participating in the first Kidney Olympics. He became the role of the speaker for all German speaking participants. 1987 the group participated at the World Transplant Games in Lake Placid/USA. On their way home, still at the airport in New York, these people established , Deutsche Sportvereiningung für Nierentransplantierte e. V.“. From this first worldwide event in Lake Placid, Karl was in contact with Maurice Slapac (WTGF Founding President) to give transplant sports structure and rules. He became an integral part of our leadership and history as a Federation. In all these 30 years, interrupted for three years because the damage of his donor kidney, Karl constantly gave manpower to support the idea of physical activity (sports) after organ transplantation. Karl, called „KARLO“ was for many years a member of the board of TransDia Sport Deutschland, and is honored today as TransDias „Hon. Senior President“. He also served for many years as a councillor fort he WTGF
Lynne first became involved in transplantation 40 years ago as sister- in- charge of the Intensive Care at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge. The first UK heart transplant programme had started at the hospital only months before her arrival, and she was responsible for caring for the newly transplanted patients, developing protocols and training all staff.
They were exciting and challenging times in those early days of heart transplantation. Lynne became very involved and soon realized that she wanted to specialise in this field. She was the first Clinical Transplant Coordinator appointment in the UK when she moved to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle 33 years ago. Her role involved coordinating the whole transplant process from when the patient is referred for assessment, joins the waiting list, to receiving offers of organs, organizing the theatre teams, retrievals and supporting the patients and their families throughout the whole transplant journey, training, advisory role to other centres nationally and internationally.
Lynne has been involved as a volunteer for Transplant Sport since 1982 and a World Transplant Games Federation Councillor from 2007-2015.
Lynne is committed to making a difference in promoting awareness of organ donation and has been involved in organising the British Transplant Games, fundraising and PR events, numerous satellite sport events in the UK and abroad, including Children’s ski camps, the European Transplant and Dialysis Games, the World Winter and Summer Transplant Games. In 2019 the WTG were held in NewcastleGateshead, UK and Lynne was the invaluable World Games team coordinator.
Lynne is probably best-known worldwide as the popular Team Manager for Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Liz is British born and living in Switzerland with her husband and family – she received her liver transplant in 1998. Ever since her transplant Liz has put her energy into helping other transplant recipients to a life of health and fitness. This especially applies to children through the annual Transplant Adventure Camps for Kids (TACKERS).
Liz founded TACKERS in 2002 – since then17 winter camps have been held in Anzère, Switzerland with hundreds of children, from around 35 different countries, participating over the years. The aim is for the children to develop their independence by trying new activities such as skiing, snowboarding, dog sleighing, scuba-diving and paragliding and to develop a support network to help their families and each other.
The camps provide an environment outside of the hospital to educate the children to comply with their post-transplant medication programme, promote good health and a fulfilling life and most importantly have fun! Camp rebuilds their confidence and shows them and their parents that they can live life independently, like others. It is also a unique way to educate and promote the positive results of organ donation and transplantation to transplant recipients, healthcare professionals and the general public.
Liz also helps to organise conferences on the topic of organ donation and transplantation as well as speaking at worldwide congresses and competing in the winter and summer World Transplant Games.
In 2011, Liz was elected to the World Transplant Games Federation Council and now sits on the Board of Trustees as an Executive member with the title of Honorary Secretary since 2016. She also works as project manager for Swisstransplant.
A few years ago Liz even climbed Kilimanjaro! She will never be able to thank her donor’s family enough although she thanks them every single day.
Dr. Maurice Slapak, a retired transplant surgeon from Britain, was the founding President of the World Transplant Games Federation from its inception with the “Transplant Olympics’ in 1978 through to 2004. The introduction of these Games was designed to visibly demonstrate the success of transplantation by showcasing these athletes were now fit and well. Dr. Slapak witnessed first hand over the years the success of the Federation in achieving an increase in organ transplants as a result of the World Transplant Games and various other initiatives of the Federation. The Games had and continues to succeed in showing the public that the Gift of Life can make these transformations possible. Read more about Dr. Maurice Slapak.