About World Transplant Games


All around the world, there are thousands of people alive today, unified by a common bond. The bond of having received or given an organ or tissue. Some owe their lives to living donors, who are family members or friends….others to the generosity of perfect strangers, organ and tissue donors driven by the desire to give life to others after their death.

The World Transplant Games give both organ recipients the motivation to strive towards full rehabilitation through exercise, camaraderie and healthy living. They also provide them with a way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who made it all possible – the donors, their families, health professionals, researchers and carers… Without them, there would be nobody on the starting line.


The first competitive sporting event for transplant recipients took place in Portsmouth, England in 1978 with around 99 competitors from the UK, France, Germany, Greece and the USA.

Today the Summer World Transplant Games are held every two years and the Winter Games in the intervening years.  In 1987 the World Transplant Games Federation was officially formed and now has nearly 70 member countries worldwide.

Image Credit: Rich Kenworthy

The competitors to the games are unique in that each one of them is alive and well as a result of a successful organ transplant. The Games embrace all ages, anyone from 4 – 80 years old who qualifies is welcome to participate.

The Summer Games have been held in countries around the world with the most recent games being in NewcastleGateshead, UK 2019; Malaga, Spain 2017; Mar Del Plata, Argentina, 2015 and Durban, South Africa 2013.The next Summer World Transplant Games will be held in Houston, USA 2021. There are over 50 events to suit all capabilities including Athletics, Tenpin Bowling, Swimming, Racquet Sports, Golf, Volleyball, Lawn Bowls and Cycling. The standards of these games can be high. The 100 meters has a record of 11.18 seconds and the long jump 6.85metres!

The Winter World Transplant Games were introduced in 1994 and include a competition called the Nicholas Cup – an event specifically designed to give transplanted children the opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of skiing for the first time under supervised conditions. The Winter Games are held at ski resorts and involve sporting disciplines such as Biathlon, curling, slalom events and snowboarding.

About World Transplant Games Federation

img Image Credit: Rob Chambers

The need for an urgent or life-saving transplant knows no boundaries – it affects people regardless of their gender, age, religion or ethnicity.

Established in 1978, the World Transplant Games Federation is a worldwide organisation with representation from more than 60 countries that celebrates successful transplantation and the gift of life through unique and inspiring events – namely the Summer and Winter World Transplant Games.

img Image Credit: Rob Chambers

The principle aim of WTGF 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, all recipients are encouraged to remain fit and healthy post transplant.

The WTGF aims to educate the public on the principles of organ donation and to highlight the worldwide shortage of donor organs. It is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and actively promotes the benefits of sport at all levels and fair play for transplant recipients.

The athletes are ambassadors for the value of organ donation and give hope to people on transplant waiting lists.