The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Hospital and Team Alabama will lead a fundraising walk to raise money to send a large contingent of UAB’s organ-transplant recipients to the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games this summer in Wisconsin.

February 1, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Hospital and Team Alabama will lead a fundraising walk to raise money to send a large contingent of UAB's organ-transplant recipients to the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games this summer in Wisconsin.

More than 50 participants went to the biennial transplant games in Pittsburgh in 2008 representing Team Alabama and UAB Hospital, one of the nation's premier transplant centers. They won 39 medals.

Organ-transplant recipients, living organ donors and family of deceased organ donors will attend the games. The four-day athletic competition is open to anyone who has received a life-saving solid organ transplant - heart, liver, kidney, lung, pancreas. Some bone-marrow recipients also are eligible to participate. The games allow recipients to test the challenges of human potential through the arena of athletic competition and promote the need for organ donation.

"The Team Alabama/UAB Walk on March 6 will help send dozens of organ recipients and donors to the transplant games," said UAB Transplant Program Administrative Director Martha Tankersley, CRNP. "We have captains for 22 volunteer teams who are developing methods to reach the walk's $25,000 goal. Sales of brightly patterned, reusable shopping bags, recipe books, food and other gifts are just a few of the ways the teams plan to raise the funds. These captains also are looking for team members to help reach their goals."

Event leaders say that without UAB, corporate and community help, fewer than half of the projected team members would be able to participate in the Transplant Games.

"The Transplant Games Walk and other functions will allow Team Alabama to take one of the largest groups of children and adults to the event," Tankersley said. "I hope everyone in the community who is interested can join a team for the walk or donate to one of the walkers.

"The games are one of the most inspirational events most participants will ever be involved in," she said. "They are a celebration of life among recipients and their families and friends and an opportunity to honor our nation's donors."

Organ recipients and Team Alabama members Jo Ann McGuire and Jim Simon have helped lead the fundraising effort for several years. McGuire remembers meetings as early as 1999 in which the Transplant Games began to be a focus for UAB's large transplant community. "I was three weeks post-transplant with a new kidney when Dr. [Arnold G.] Diethelm mentioned the games to me," McGuire said. "I could barely walk, but I promised I'd go to the 2000 Games, and it has helped keep me going for the past 10 years."

Simons, a kidney recipient, said, "It takes at least $2,200 to train and send a participant to the Games, and most of them can't do it on their own, given financial pressures from their medical issues. Right now we have 64 people who want to go to the games, so we're working hard to make this happen."

The 2010 Transplant Games will be held July 30 through Aug. 4 in Madison, Wis. The National Kidney Foundation (NKF), along with its many affiliates and divisions, presents the NKF 2010 U.S. Transplant Games celebration of life that includes transplant recipients, their friends and families, living donors, donor families, transplant professionals and spectators from the host community.

The games are the only national athletic competition for recipients of all life-saving organ transplants and the largest gathering of transplant recipients and donor families in the world. The games promote the health and fitness of participants and showcase the success of transplantation, highlight the need for organ and tissue donors and honor the thousands of selfless acts of love from donors and their families worldwide.

For more information on the event, to join a walk team or to donate, visit or call 205-975-0588.

About UAB

More than 10,000 transplants have been performed at UAB since its first in 1968. UAB's renal transplant program now is the second largest and busiest in the nation, doing more than 300 procedures each year. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, UAB has performed more kidney transplants than any other U.S. program since 1987. UAB's liver transplant program is ranked 16th in the nation for its volume; its patient outcomes are among the best in the South and waiting times to receive a transplant are among the shortest in the South. UAB is the second-largest lung transplant center in the South, and the heart transplant program has gained international recognition as one of the premier thoracic transplant programs in the United States, having performed almost 500 heart transplants with outstanding survival rates.