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Celebration of life and sport: World Transplant Games – Durban, 2013

9 Jan, 13 | by Karim Khan

 By Dr. Efraim Kramer

WTGF_Durban_2013The XIX World Transplant Games (Games), under the auspices of the World Transplant Games Federation, is heading for Durban, South Africa in July 2013. These Games are open to all organ transplant recipients internationally and it is expected that 1500 athletes from 52 countries will participate in the 5 day sporting event. This major sporting event, a celebration of life by those who have been afforded a second chance, consists of exclusively  non-contact events such as track and events, cycling, mini marathon, ten pin bowling, volleyball, pétanque, lawn bowls, badminton, tennis, squash, table tennis, golf and a wide spectrum of swimming events. All sporting events are further risk categorised into physiological low (golf), medium (table tennis) and high (athletics) stress level sporting events.

Swimmer from WTG 2011, Göteborg, Sweden (Photo courtesy of

Swimmer from WTG 2011, Göteborg, Sweden (Photo courtesy of

Several things makes this sporting event unique. Beyond the special medical entry requirements of each athlete, there is:

  1. The array of approved anti-rejection and related medications administered by each athlete.
  2. The requirement for a transplant physician medical certificate confirming the athlete’s health and fitness to participate in the sporting events selected. And;
  3. The participation of both children and adults in the Games, albeit in different events.

No athletes are permitted to participate if they are undergoing any form of organ rejection or renal failure, anaemia, immunosuppression instability, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia or infection.

Most participating teams are accompanied by medical personnel who take overall responsibility for each team member’s medical requirements and occasional problems, but this may not necessarily be so for smaller teams. Therefore the medical services plan for these Games cover an anticipated spectrum of medical incidents, including those related to organ transplantation matters. As such, the local organising committee (LOC) includes organ transplant medical and professional personnel  and organ transplant delegated medical institutions, so that any non-sport related, organ transplant specific medical event, including acute organ rejection, acute infections or organ dysfunction, to mention a few, may be immediately referred for organ transplant medical specialist opinion and management, if required. It is also mandatory that the medical LOC has access to the medical file of every participant. This is necessary not only to confirm participation on health grounds, but to have advanced knowledge of the athlete’s medications, their local availability, organ transplant approved infectious disease prophylaxis and immunization status. Immunizations may include tetanus, malaria and rabies if the Games athletes engage in local safari, a major tourist attraction in this part of the world.

Needless to say, an international sporting event of this nature is a valuable educational opporunity for athletes and medical LOCs.  We will update the BJSM Blog with highlights during the Games.


Efraim Kramer, Chief Medical Officer: World Transplant Games, South Africa 2013

Professor + Chair: Division of Emergency Medicine

Honorary Professor: Exercise Science + Sports Medicine

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Guest post: Exercise is Medicine’s Bob Sallis. Every Body Walk campaign. Fun videos!

4 May, 12 | by Karim Khan


Thought you might be interested in seeing our latest edition to the Every Body Walk campaign.  This PSA features the cast from The West Wing TV show.

We are releasing this virally, and its had over 300,000 hits in 3 days.

See also Bob Sallis’ compelling case for doctors including exercise as the 5th vital sign – every consultation. This has had over 4,000 views.

And in the Steve Blair-edited Special Exercise is Medicine theme issue (Jan 2009), Bob included an argument for the doctor’s role in prescribing – share this with your colleagues!

Finally – for those who haven’t seen Mike Evans’ viral video ‘23.5 hours’ – it fits beautifully with ‘Everybody Walk’. Click on this link to the BJSM blog and watch it for 9 minutes! It has had nearly 3 million views!


Exergame may be the future in innovative settings – what about depression?

22 Nov, 10 | by Karim Khan

You’ve got depression and they want you to motivate yourself to go for a run. Like telling the bloke with the deafness to listen for the phone call about hearing aid appointment. But if the activity is fun, stimulating, it may work both ways. Neuroscience Research Australia researcher Stuart Smith presented a compelling argument that videogames could be an important bridge between the need for exercise and the motivation to do it.

He contrasted spinal cord injured patients doing mind-numbing tasks like moving sandbags from one pile to another with their obsession to play video games and get lots of balance exercises that way. Inpatients were lined up at the door to get in to ‘play’.

Time for innovation – creativity —  in prescribing exercise — the most powerful health modality.

See the relevant Facebook page (of course) Games for Health Australasia

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