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South West transplant community encourages locals to join donor registry ahead of World Transplant Games

Headshot of Breanna Redhead
Breanna RedheadSouth Western Times
World Transplant Games WA team manager Julie Moloney.
Camera IconWorld Transplant Games WA team manager Julie Moloney. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

Athletes from across the globe are set to come together this weekend to advocate for the gift of life and encourage organ donation in Western Australia.

The 24th World Transplant Games will kick off in Perth this Saturday, showcasing not only the inspiring journey and abilities of transplant recipients but the lifesaving benefits of organ and tissue donation.

With a handful of South West athletes taking part in the games, managing the Australian team is Harvey local Julie Moloney — a living donor who gave her kidney to her daughter — who says the games are about more than just sports.

“The World Transplant Games are all about getting together, celebrating and giving it a go,” she said.

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“There’s a big percentage of people that are just giving it a go to show the world and their donors and everyone that it’s a worthwhile thing to donate ... because, they’ve had a second chance of life.”

The Games is a biennial competition which sees up to 1500 participants from more than 50 countries come together to compete in 17 different sports.

Perth’s games will mark the third WTG to take place in Australia, previously being held in Sydney in 1997 and Queensland in 2009.

World Transplant Games competitor Rob Newby and  WA team manager Julie Moloney.
Camera IconWorld Transplant Games competitor Rob Newby and WA team manager Julie Moloney. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

Along with the games, the week long event also hosts a donor beach walk, celebrating those who generously donated their organs along with family members and support people of both donors and recipients.

Though an individual may want to donate their organs after passing, Ms Moloney said it was important to discuss the decision with your family.

“The overriding decision is made by the family,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve put in your will, or in writing or anything. When the time comes, the next of kin are the ones to make the decision.

“It’s the most important thing, even for young people, because young people have car accidents, there’s babies needing transplants, all these things and if you haven’t had that conversation, no one will know.”

Competing in the games for the first time will be Harvey man Rob Newby — a heart transplant recipient — who will take part in both badminton and lawn bowls events.

He hopes by having the games in Perth, it will raise awareness of the urgent need for donors, expressing his gratitude for being given a second chance at life.

“It’s given me a life ... I assumed that everybody at my age felt like I felt like I did, just getting old ... but now that I’ve got a younger, slightly younger, stronger head, I can do physical things that I found a little bit of a chore before,” he said.

“The whole concept of the Games is really to show the world that you’ve come through.

“Every participant in one form or another has had their own journey and lots of same or similar stories.

“It’s also about people being aware of the fact that organ donors are required, it sounds scary and it is scary to make that choice, but awareness and discussion is so important.

“The focus is not on us — the focus is on the message.”

Register as an organ donor at donatelife.gov.au.

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