Here is a different type of sporting event. An event that rejoices sportsmanship in a different way. Every year, in the winters, the maximum city of India-Mumbai is illuminated by the National Transplant Games. This is a unique event where participants are not professional sportsmen but their participation is filled with zest and zeal. There is a tough competition but winning is not a priority. These participants celebrate their life through these games as they are the ones who have gone under the knife and either have received or donated an organ to/from their body.
The event, organised by Narmada Kidney Foundation, has seen a steady growth in the last 10 years. People from across the nation travel to Mumbai to participate in this event. They compete in various disciplines like track and field, rifle shooting, archery, table tennis, carrom and new sports like pickleball. For two days they are constantly given the feel that they can lead a normal healthy life post-transplant.
Narmada Kidney Foundation has been working towards educating and supporting organ transplantation and organ donation for 25 years. In 1993, eminent Nephrologist, Bharat Shah, realised the need to set up a foundation after seeing the rising cases of chronic kidney disease, its devastating medical complications and social implications. “Kidney transplant is the best treatment for patients with kidney failure. It is less expensive, offers a better quality of life and longer survival. What we doctors need to do is encourage these people to follow a regular life. The Transplant Games is a part of various educational programmes of our foundation.”
In 2017, around 210 participants came in for the Games. National and Asian Billiards Champion Devendra Joshi flagged off the tournament in the presence of eminent sports personalities like Uday Deshpande-torch-bearer of Mallakhamb in India, Ashok Karande-Asian Champion in Rifle Shooting, Sunil Valavalkar-pioneer of Pickleball in India and ex-cricketer Ashish Parulekar. An active member of this organisation, Dhyanraj Patkar stated that this initiative gives both recipients and donors the motivation to strive towards full rehabilitation through exercise and healthy living. He added, “I myself have a transplanted kidney. But whenever I come to this sporting event, I forget my physical disability. It gives me so much positive energy.”
The Foundation bear the expenses for the participants who come from other states for the Games. “Recognition from the Ministry or any government body will be great as that will bring this Games in a professional ambit,” expected Bharat Shah who has been working relentlessly to give a happy life to all organ recipients and donors.
This National Transplant Games was inspired by the Summer Games and Winter Games organised by the World Transplant Games Federation. The organisation was founded in 1987 with representation from more than 70
countries that aims to raise public awareness of the health and fitness that can be achieved post-transplant. Dhyanraj Patkar says, “We are following the path of World Transplant Games. We have people from all ages, anyone from 8– 80 years who qualifies is welcome to participate. We still do not have any recognition but hope to get it in near future.”