50th Anniversary of Organ Transplantation to be Celebrated at 2004 U.S. Transplant Games

New York, NY
December 8 , 2003

Fifty years ago, when doctors astounded the world with a kidney transplant between identical twins, no one could have imagined that this medical technology would eventually save over 400,000 lives and make it possible for more than 2,000 transplant recipients to celebrate their second chances in an Olympic- style sports competition, the U.S. Transplant Games.

The 2004 U.S. Transplant Games, to be presented by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) from July 28-August 1 at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, are the largest sports event in the world for people with life-saving organ transplants. Win or lose, this group of athletes all carry an inner trophy--a new organ that qualifies them for the dream team in the game of life.

The U.S. Transplant Games attract athletes from all 50 states who compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in 13 different sports, including track and field, swimming, cycling and basketball. The five-day event, presented biennially since 1990, also features educational programs and workshops for families of living and non-living organ donors and medical professionals in the field of transplantation.

Since the Games' inception in 1990 when 1,000 people convened in Indianapolis, the event has experienced meteoric growth. The U.S. Transplant Games attracted 8,000 in 2002 in Orlando and there is an anticipated participation for '04 of a total of 10,000 people including athletes, families, donor families and transplant professionals.

In addition to the sports competition, special events commemorating the 50th anniversary of transplantation will be held. Dr. Joseph Murray, who headed the Boston team that performed the first successful kidney transplant between identical twins in 1954, will be honored. Murray, who is 84 and won a 1990 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his pioneering work in organ transplantation, is planning to personally attend the 2004 U.S. Transplant Games.

Says Brian O’Callaghan, Vice President, Transplant and Immunology Business Unit at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, the Games' founding sponsor, "The U.S. Transplant Games truly showcase the success of transplantation therapy, while promoting the health and fitness of the transplant athletes." The Games also call attention to the dramatic national organ shortage. More than 80,000 Americans are currently on the national transplant waiting list for every type of life-saving organ transplant and 17 people die each day while waiting.

The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is focused on enhancing the quality of life for transplant recipients through the development and introduction of novel drugs and technologies.

Additional sponsors of the National Kidney Foundation 2004 U.S. Transplant Games include Cargill, HRSA, Division of Transplantation, Roche Pharmaceuticals, Coca-Cola Company, National Council of Corvette Clubs, Fujisawa Healthcare, Inc., Kare 11, Lifesource, Mayo Clinic and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

For more information on the U.S. Transplant Games call the foundation at (800) 622-9010