To help encourage Virginians to register as organ donors, the first ever Virginia Transplant Games will be held this weekend at various locations throughout the area. Among the attendees will be First Lady Maureen McDonnell, whose sister is a transplant recipient. She talks about her involvement in the Games and why organ donation is so important for Virginians to consider.
The first ever Virginia Transplant Games will take place in Richmond this Saturday. The event was created to help increase the number of Virginians in the donor registry run by Donate Life Virginia, an agency overseen by the Virginia Department of Health. The games consists of transplant recipients and living donors competing in Olympics-like events. One of the participants will be Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell.
“I am privileged to be honoring the families of donors; their sacrifice is the ultimate gift… life,” said the First Lady in an interview with RVANews. First Lady McDonnell’s sister, Ellen, is a lung transplant recipient. Ellen first told McDonnell about the games. Shortly after being informed of them, “I received an invitation from Donate Life to ‘open the games,’ says McDonnell. “I was honored to accept.”
The ambition of Donate Life is to increase the education level about organ donation, as well as the number of registered donors. It is a coalition of organ procurement organizations, eye banks, transplant centers, as well as others who want to strengthen the state’s various organ donor services.
“So many people lack an understanding of organ donation, and I strongly encourage Virginians to better educate themselves on how important donation is,” says First Lady McDonnell. “My sister is alive because of a donor; their lungs are working hard for her with every breath she takes, and she is so grateful.”
McDonnell is especially appreciative of the doctors who performed a lung transplant on her sister, Ellen. “They’ve allowed me more time with the sister I love, and blessed us with another beautiful morning to walk 5K’s together for the 1st Annual Transplant Games.”
The games will feature events such as a 5K run, shotput, bowling, table tennis, among others. The events are open to the public, and will take place throughout three locations: Clover Hill High School, Midloathian Family YMCA, and King Pin Lanes. Tickets to attend all events are free.
“Transplant recipients have been given the gift of life,” says McDonnell. “They are excited that they have the chance to live and work and be productive again.” The first lady is rather fond of a line often spoken by her sister, Ellen:
Don’t take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here.
(You may register to become an organ donor on the Donate Life Virginia website)