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About Sickkids
About SickKids

August 11, 2009

Team SickKids aims to paint Australia’s Gold Coast Team Canada red

Young transplant recipients will compete in World Transplant Games

TORONTO – A group of young athletes were honoured today at an official send-off for an international athletic competition. What makes these competitors unique? They are all transplant recipients from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

After months of training and fundraising, the Team SickKids delegation will soon be heading Down Under to compete at the 17th World Transplant Games on Australia’s Gold Coast. The 25-member national team of heart, lung, liver and kidney transplant patients will be part of Team Canada at the Games, which take place August 22 to 30.

“One of the main goals of our organ transplantation program is to provide a better quality of life and as normal a childhood as possible,” said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of SickKids. “Our patients’ participation in the World Transplant Games is a testament not only to the quality of care they have received but also to their own and their families’ resolve. It is their determination, spirit and enthusiasm that we are celebrating today.”

This is Team SickKids’ second appearance at the World Transplant Games. In 2007, 17 heart transplant patients brought home 38 medals and memories to last a lifetime at the Games in Bangkok, Thailand. The delegation made SickKids the first and only hospital in Canada to send a team to the Games.

“At the 2007 Games, Team SickKids athletes had the opportunity to meet and interact with transplant recipients of all ages and organs,” said Dr. Anne Dipchand, Associate Director of the SickKids Transplant Centre, Head of the SickKids Heart Transplant Program and General Manager of Team SickKids. “One of the greatest highlights for both the parents and the kids was to see people who had received organ transplants as kids, who have grown up into adults leading healthy, successful and fulfilling lives.”

Ten-year-old Jessica Dorcich, a heart transplant recipient and returning athlete who also competed in the 2007 World Transplant Games, said one of her favourite aspects of the Games is meeting people who have had transplants just like her. “Even though we have all had different experiences, it is nice to know that we have this chance to come together and compete and show the world what we can do,” she said.

Peter Fonseca, MPP for Mississauga East – Cooksville / Marathon runner and 1996 Olympian, offered words of encouragement to the athletes.

“On behalf of the Government of Ontario and myself as a former athlete, we will be rooting and cheering for all of you as you do your best and represent Canada very proudly on the world stage,” he said. “We’re so proud to be here with some of Canada’s most courageous young boys and girls who really set a shining example for all of us.”

Members of Team SickKids have been preparing for the Games for several months through an exercise training program developed by SickKids physiotherapists. Team SickKids events include ball throw, bowling, track and field, badminton, tennis, swimming, table tennis, cycling and golf. This year, SickKids organizers have obtained a grant from the Canadian Society of Transplantation to examine the impact of the Games on the physical fitness, activity levels and quality of life of SickKids patients.

The majority of the team members are from Ontario, but some hail from Nova Scotia, Manitoba and British Columbia. Members of Team SickKids range in age from eight to 18.

The World Transplant Games welcomes more than 1,500 athletes from 60 countries, who participate in more than 50 events. Athletes range in age from four to 80. Each competitor is alive and well as a result of a successful organ transplant, demonstrating the level of health and vitality that can be achieved after a transplant.

Visit www.sickkids.ca/teamsickkids for athletes’ profiles, daily blog entries and results from the World Transplant Games.

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada’s most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children’s health in the country. As innovators in child health, SickKids improves the health of children by integrating care, research and teaching. Our mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized care by creating scientific and clinical advancements, sharing our knowledge and expertise and championing the development of an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca. SickKids is committed to healthier children for a better world.

For more information, please contact:

Matet Nebres
The Hospital for Sick Children
Phone: 416-813-6380
email: matet.nebres@sickkids.ca

Suzanne Gold
The Hospital for Sick Children
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 2059
email: suzanne.gold@sickkids.ca