Healthcare professionals collaborate to help make World Transplant Games a success

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Wednesday, July 31 2013

Recipients of organ transplants can generally say with conviction that their healthcare professionals were by their side when needed before, during and long after their transplants. Now, many of these South African healthcare practitioners have stepped forward to assist and support their transplant patients competing in the World Transplant Games, hosted in Durban from 28 July to 4 August 2013.

“It has been wonderful to see how medical services from across the country have all joined hands to help make the games a success,” says Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment, who together with a dedicated medical local organising team, is coordinating the medical services for the games in her personal capacity.

According to Toubkin, the medical teams consist of transplant and trauma staff, qualified nurses and paramedics. “There is a veritable ‘melting pot’ of healthcare individuals and services providing essential medical services at this unique international sporting event, which is taking place on African soil for the first time. This not only highlights their caring nature but is also indicative of the special bond formed between healthcare professionals and their patients.”

Toubkin says she is humbled and overwhelmed by the large number of Netcare staff and medical practitioners who have volunteered. One staff member succinctly summed up the sentiment among Netcare volunteers: ”While Mandela Day is officially celebrated on 18 July every year, we view every day as Mandela Day – an opportunity to reach out and contribute to those in need”.

Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the World Transplant Games 2013 and the SA Transplant Sports Association, Willie Uys, agrees with Toubkin, saying it’s been remarkable that so many healthcare organisations and individuals from the private and public sectors have come together to provide medical support for the event and its participants. “It has been a most inclusive process that has worked exceptionally well,” he adds.

“We are honoured that the event, which celebrates the strength and tenacity of the human spirit while highlighting the importance of organ donation, is taking place in South Africa. The games are open to all organ transplant recipients and some 1 500 athletes from 52 countries are participating over the five days of the event. Everyone has put in a mammoth effort to ensure the success of the games which could never have taken place without the involvement and caring support of our medical personnel.”

Uys says that well managed medical services are vital to the games’ success. “Many organ transplant recipients need to take special anti-rejection medication while keeping a close eye on their fitness and health. Some recipients have weak immune systems and therefore need to be closely monitored.”

The organisations and high profile individuals involved in the games include: Prof Efraim Kramer, professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits); Professor Lucille Bloomberg from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases; Dr Alison Bentley of the Department of Internal Medicine at Wits; the Durban University of Technology – Chiropractic, Nursing, Somatherapy and Emergency Medical Services; Sharks Sports Medicine Academy; KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services, EMC Emergency Medical Services, City Med Emergency Medical Services, Resq Care Emergency Medical Services , Netcare 911 Emergency Medical Services, Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre, and Netcare hospitals.

One of the inspiring individuals participating in the games is 29-year-old Alice Vogt, a lung transplant recipient born with cystic fibrosis – a congenital disease which clogs the lungs, intestines and pancreas with thick mucus. By 2006 Alice could hardly breathe and needed oxygen around the clock to survive. “The lung transplant I had in 2008 at Netcare Milpark Hospital changed my life,” notes Alice. “For the first time I could live a full life. This is the third time I am participating in the games. The first time I was awarded gold for squash and in Sweden two years ago I won silver for squash and bronze for race-walk. The games are a wonderful way for me to celebrate the life I have been given through organ donation.”

Alice is delighted to represent her country, this time on home soil. “The event heightens awareness about transplantation and the importance of organ donation. There are many South Africans who need organs if they are to survive and I hope that the games will encourage more people to step forward to become donors,” she concludes.


Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact: Martina Nicholson or Graeme Swinney
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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