Special Athletes Go for the Gold

New York, NY (June 26, 2002) - They haven't hit the court or track yet and already this group of athletes has performed death-defying feats. They all carry an inner trophy—a new organ that qualifies them for the dream team in the game of life. Their ultimate trial will kick off tonight at the National Kidney Foundation 2002 U.S. Transplant Games being held at Disney's Wide World of Sports™ Complex.

The Games, to be held today through Saturday, June 29, 2002, are an Olympic-style event for athletes who have received life-saving organ transplants of every type—kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas and bone marrow. Transplant athletes will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in 12 different sports including track and field, swimming, tennis, basketball, cycling and golf. Presented biennially by the National Kidney Foundation since 1990, and sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, the U.S. Transplant Games draw participants from all over the country who are organized into 50 state teams.

"More than 80,000 Americans are currently on the waiting list for life-saving organ transplants and seventeen people die each day while waiting. The Transplant Games showcase the success of transplantation, demonstrating the life-saving power of organ donation," says Drew Baur, NKF chairman.

At the 2002 Games, a record-breaking gathering of 6,000 people, 1,500 of which are transplant athletes from all 50 states and five foreign countries will converge in Orlando for the competition. In addition to athletic competition, the Games will feature four days of special workshops for donor families and an educational program for professionals involved in transplantation. A 5K Road Race will be held at Epcot Center during the four-day event.

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, proud sponsor of the 2002 Games, has supported the event since 1990. A committed partner to the transplant community, Novartis is dedicated to enhancing therapeutic options, quality of life and long term success of therapy for transplant recipients. Additional sponsors include Roche, The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), The Coca Cola Company, United Resource Networks, the National Council of Corvette Clubs, Fujisawa Healthcare and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.