Chris embarked on his transplant journey when he assumed the role of CEO for Transplant Australia in 2007. Armed with a background in journalism and media consulting, particularly within the Australian Medical Association, he seamlessly integrated his expertise into the organization.
It was in 2007 that Chris first encountered the World Transplant Games, accompanying the Australian team to the spirited event held in Bangkok, Thailand. Immersed in the camaraderie and deeply moved by the accomplishments of transplant recipients, he became captivated by the experience.
Taking on the challenge of organizing the Australian Transplant Games in Perth in 2008, Chris laid a vital foundation for his subsequent leadership role in the grandeur of the 2009 World Transplant Games held in the Gold Coast, Australia. As chairman of the games, his pivotal contributions ensured their resounding success.
At the 2009 World Transplant Games, Chris was elected as a Trustee of the World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF). Leveraging his journalistic prowess, he assumed a prominent position in the communications function of the WTGF, making substantial contributions to the bi-annual TransplantWorld Journals.
Demonstrating his commitment to the evolution of the WTGF, Chris introduced a new accounting system and spearheaded the creation of a fresh logo and brand guidelines. These initiatives were unveiled at the prestigious 2013 World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa, where he was elected to the executive committee, serving as Treasurer.
In 2015, Chris’s remarkable tenure culminated in his election as President of the WTGF, a position he has admirably held for an astounding eight years. His visionary leadership propelled the WTGF to new heights, raising awareness about the importance of organ donation.
Under his guidance, notable achievements include the appointment of management staff to enhance the professional delivery of WTGF games, events, and education programs. The WTGF was formally incorporated as a legal entity in 2016, and the groundbreaking Fit For Life program was introduced. The addition of Fit for Life ambassadors, marked by a significant launch in Chicago in 2016, further underscored Chris’s commitment to promoting healthy living.
In subsequent years, Chris’s accomplishments continued to accumulate. Key milestones include the development of WTGF Bylaws in 2017, the introduction of competition events that honored donors and donor families at the 2017 Games in Malaga, Spain, and the establishment of the Hall of Fame. The WTGF’s official registration as a charity in 2018 and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) further cemented the organization’s global influence. Notably, an Ambassador Olympian Campaign hosted at the IOC headquarters strengthened relationships between WTGF member countries and their respective IOC bodies.
The WTGF’s prominence expanded as its programs and brand were included in official programs at Transplantation Society Congresses from 2016 to 2022. Additionally, the organization actively participated in numerous organ donation and transplantation congresses, national games, and educational events worldwide.
To foster community engagement, Chris introduced a football commission and organized multiple virtual events for the transplantation community, including the Billion Steps Challenges, cycle awareness rides, and Virtual golf and tenpin bowling challenges. Furthermore, he launched Refit for Life, an online rehabilitation program offering exercise and wellness resources for transplant recipients. A research initiative supporting the growth of research into sport, exercise, and health for organ and tissue transplant recipients was also established under his guidance.
In an effort to empower the youth, Chris initiated Transplant Next, a dedicated youth program, and he tirelessly worked towards bringing joy to children awaiting transplants by creating TX—the transplant Teddy bear—sent to young recipients worldwide.
The WTGF has grown exponentially in the last 8 years. Chris has brought with him incredible leadership, vision and ideas. Most importantly, he had brought a heart and compassion for the transplant community.
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.
Over his 26 years time in Presidency, he ensured the recognition and continuing financial support of the Federation by the International Olympic Committee including well publicized public endorsement of organ donation by President Jaques Rogge. He also saw the inclusion of bone marrow transplants in the games and the recognition and support from donor families to be involved and part of the celebrations. National Games began to grow, and many new countries started joining the Federation resulting in the benefits of sport and healthy lifestyle post transplantation spreading on a global scale. From just five countries and 99 athletes participating in the first Games, the Federation now has over 60 member countries and thousands of athletes competing every two years in the summer World Transplant Games. He remains President of the British Transplant Sports Association and has stimulated the inception of national Games in Mongolia, China and Armenia
Dr. Slapak’s vision and commitment saw the Federation become a leading contributor to the area of transplantation and organ donation. As founding President of the very successful organization, the World Transplant Games Federation thanks Dr. Slapak for his vision, determination and many contributions. Dr Slapak’s contribution is recognised every summer World Transplant Games through the awarding of the Maurice Slapak award for the mens 5km road race.
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.
Olivier accomplished much for the Federation during his term of Presidency. He made major contributions to the WTGF Journal, which is now an bi-annual edition and is distributed to hundreds of people, transplant sports federation and medical professionals around the world. His Presidency also saw the upgrade of communication tools with a new website, and launch of social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Olivier was fundamental in implementing many administration policies such as regular council meetings, daily team managers meetings and a welcome reception at Games. Workshops covering different topics at the games were introduced by Olivier to help member countries, a needy country programme was established, and he placed much focus on increasing the number of juniors attending the games.
Olivier also placed detailed attention over this term on the medical elements, encouraging symposiums and research projects at the various Games. He implemented the need for medical and repatriation insurance for all attendees, and made major contributions to the financial stability of the Federation.
He has also been a very successful athlete at the Games winning various medals at the Summer Games for long jump, badminton, squash, swimming and track and fields events. He also participated in many Winter Games, where he achieved medals for alpine, cross-country and biathlon. Olivier has been a great advocate for participating in sport post transplant and showcasing the success of exercise and healthy lifestyle after transplantation.
Oliver, understanding the gift of receiving not only one, but three organs, has dedicated his life to promoting organ donation and transplantation. The World Transplant Games Federation thanks Olivier for his many contributions made to the Federation during his presidency.