Warwick man’s plea for more organ donors as he heads to World Transplant Games

Simon Perkin will be taking part in the World Transplant Games which start on Sunday (June 25).
Simon Perkin will be taking part in the World Transplant Games which start on Sunday (June 25).
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A cancer survivor and transplant athlete from Warwick has issued a fresh plea for people to sign up to be an organ donor as he heads off to Malaga for the World Transplant Games.

Simon Perkin was diagnosed with blood cancer in 1991 at the age of 26 and after years of treatment and his deteriorating health, was left with no alternative but to have a bone marrow transplant in July 2012, when a donor match was found.

Since the operation, Simon’s health has steadily improved.

A major part of his recovery has been keeping himself in the best possible shape, which included taking part in the London Marathon just 18 months after his transplant.

In July 2016 Simon took part in the British Transplant Games in Liverpool, which is a qualifier for the World Transplant Games, where he won four gold medals.

Simon was selected for Team GB at this year’s World Transplant Games, and is part of the country’s largest ever team at the event, with 200 transplant athletes, including 20 juniors, 10 live donors, and 200-plus supporters.

The Games take place every two years, this year starting on the 25 June, and are supported by the International Olympic Committee.

They represent the largest organ donor awareness event in the world, featuring a week of 17 sporting events, 1000 transplant athletes, from 60 countries across the globe. 

All of Team GB’s athletes have survived either a heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, liver, small bowel or bone marrow transplant.

Simon has now launched a fresh plea to get more people to sign up to the Organ Donation Register.

He said: “Every twenty minutes someone in the UK finds out they have a blood cancer.

“Around 2,000 people in the UK are in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant every year. Like me, this is usually their last chance of survival

“I was diagnosed with blood cancer in 1991 at the age of 26 and after years of treatment and deteriorating health, my only option was a bone marrow transplant. I was lucky as the Anthony Nolan Trust found a donor match in July 2012, and so my recovery began.

“As training for the World Transplant Games enters its final phase, it’s a reminder of how far I have come and all I have achieved. It makes me feel so proud to be alive and representing Team GB at the Games.”

To cover his own costs of getting to the World Transplant Games and raise money for Transplant Sport UK, Simon has launched a fundraising campaign that has so far, raised £2,030 of his of £2,500 target.

Warwickshire law firm Lodders has already donated £600 to Simon’s fundraising, making it his largest supporter to date.

Lynne Holt, Team GB Manager added: “In spite of the constant training, fitting in work, school, exams, and hospital clinic appointments, these athletes receive no government support, and have to raise the funding themselves.

“Sadly, many could not accept their place on the team, because of the heavy financial burden.

“The team are supported by management, coaches, captains and a medical/physio team, all who are volunteers and are also self-financing.

“Their motivation to be ‘Fit for Life’, the opportunity to represent their country, celebrate life and pay tribute to their donors who gave them life, is the goal.

“These athletes certainly deserve the same recognition as the recent Olympic and Para Olympic Games. Not only are they ambassadors for our country, but they are also representing the charity, Transplant Sport, and hope to raise awareness here in the UK and globally, of the need for more people to sign on to the Organ Donor Register and discuss their wishes with their family and friends.”