If you haven’t already heard, the Transplant Life Foundation recently announced that Birmingham will host the 2024 Transplant Games of America. The Games, which will take place July 5-10, 2024, is a national, festival-style, multi-sport event that will bring together nearly 10,000 members of the transplant community.
As co-manager for Team Alabama, Stan Smith is elated to have the games come to his neck of the woods. Smith’s wife, Nancy, survived 18 additional years after having a heart and double lung transplant in 1987. “Nancy passed away in 2007,” he said. “And since she’s passed, I just had this strong feeling to keep going. There are so many more people needing transplants. I can share her story and keep making a difference in the lives of other people.”
One way Smith is able to do that is by being involved in the Transplant Games. “We started the journey in the fall of 1999 with the goal of sending a team to the 2000 Transplant Games,” he said. “That’s how we got started with Team Alabama and I’ve been part of it ever since.”
Smith’s initial function was to take photos and videos and share those with the team members and whoever wanted them. Now his role has evolved into a co-manager which is more involved with recruiting. “I’m trying to get as many people to the games as I can. This will be my 8th Games that I’ve gone to and each one of them is different. Once you go to one of them, you keep going because it’s just a fantastic event,” he added.
Smith says the importance of having an event like the Transplant Games cannot be understated. “It shows that transplantation really works,” he said. “And it’s an opportunity to not only support our donor families and living donor families, but also to let more people know the need for registered organ donors.”
Plus, it’s also a unique experience for transplant recipients to show how well they’re doing. “You don’t have to be a super athlete. You could play darts or cornhole. But it gives you a chance to show life after transplant. It’s a very special event. It’s an opportunity to experience something you’ve never experienced before,” Smith said.
To learn more about the 2024 Transplant Games, click here.