An extraordinary Bradford College staff member has been proudly flying the flag for Great Britain at the 2023 World Transplant Games.
Karen Piotr, who is based within Health Sciences, Meditech, & Technology at the College, made the 9,000 mile journey to Perth, Australia for the exciting opportunity of being Team GB captain.
The team consisted of 123 transplant athletes, as well as 100 supporters who travelled to cheer the team on. Every athlete competing has survived a heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, liver, small bowel or bone marrow transplant and resides in the UK, ranging between 12 and 73-years-old.
Speaking about her time down under, Karen said:
“My time in Perth representing Team GB, as the donor family and live donor captain, has been a rollercoaster of emotions.
“To share experiences with transplant recipients and see the joy when they compete is a truly special experience. The amazing stories of resilience, tragedy, hope and courage will be something I treasure. I’ve shared special gifts with other donor families and made countless new friends.”
This inspiring staff member has played a huge part in Bradford College’s mission to increase organ donation awareness, and captaining GB is just her latest achievement after opening the 2022 British Games. These incredible accomplishments have come following the passing of Karen’s late husband Mark in 2017, whose organs were donated to eight different individuals.
As well as the honour of captaining and representing donor families, Karen was also chosen to read a poem on behalf of donor families across the world at a special memorial service and took part in a poignant beach walk, where a moment of reflection was observed.
“To have the honour of reading a poem at the remembrance service, on behalf of all donor families from across the world, will be the most memorable experience”, Karen continues.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity and to share my story of Mark and how he helped save the lives of eight people. I have enough photos to fill 20 books, each one with its own memories and special meaning.”
The Games themselves give recipients the motivation to strive towards full rehabilitation through exercise, camaraderie, and healthy living. They also give those involved a way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who made it all possible – the donors, their families, health professionals, researchers and carers.
Events range from darts to cycling to squash and swimming, with a total of 17 different sporting events across seven days.
Explaining their work and aims, the World Transplant Games Federation states: ‘Our principal aim is to raise public awareness of the importance and benefits of organ donation by demonstrating the health and fitness that can be achieved post-transplant. Equally, we aim to encourage all recipients to remain fit and healthy post-transplant.
‘We aim to educate the public on the principles of organ donation and to highlight the worldwide shortage of donor organs. We are recognised by the International Olympic Committee and actively promote the benefits of sport at all levels and fair play for transplant recipients.’
The World Transplant Games Federation was established in 1978 and is a worldwide organisation, with representation from more than 60 countries.
Read more about Bradford College’s missions to increase organ donation awareness or find out more about the courses in Karen’s department on the Bradford College website.