Transplant Games State Pins
Transplant Games State Pins become a big part of the games.
Did you know approximately 123,000 people in the United States waiting for an organ transplant? From a kidney to a heart, a lung to a liver, those on the organ waiting list are constantly hoping to receive that life-saving donation and a second chance at life. Every 10 minutes another name is added to the list. Some, like Jason Barishman, have been lucky enough to receive the gift of a donated organ, and now hope to bring awareness of the need for more donations through the Transplant Games of America.
The Transplant Games of America are a multi-sport event that occurs every two years. Those who have received a transplant, as well as living donors, are allowed to participate in any of the 20+ sport events held during the Games. The sports range from ballroom dancing and Texas Hold ‘Em to basketball and volleyball. Over the years it has also grown into an event that brings donor families and transplant families together. Since families rarely get to see those who received their loved one’s organ, the games allow them to see how such a donation changes lives.
Jason was diagnosed with a rare type of cardio myapathy when he was 16 years old. After going through multiple types of medication in the rest of his teenage years he finally received a heart transplant at the age of 22. 21 years later he says, “I’m 42 years old now, married, and have 3 children. I’m a great example that transplantation works and LIFE GOES ON!” Jason has participated in the Transplant Games since 1996. He’s won seven medals, from gold to bronze, and is excited to compete in several events at this year’s games. He says, “The Games are proof that organ donation works. [They] are inspirational and a chance to get out in the community and show the world how we take care of our gifts of life. [We] hope to meet a donor family and have them realize the lives they have saved.”
As Jason said, along with being an athletic event, the Transplant Games work to highlight the importance of organ donations, as well as prove the effectiveness of transplantation as a treatment. Visitors to the games have the opportunity to see why registering as a donor candidate is so important. Those involved also have the power to support donor campaigns, or sponsor a particular transplant-ee. The Transplant Games of America work to involve entire communities, states, and the nation in the transplant mission.
As each state prepares to send their TGA teams to this year’s event, they design a trading pin. These trading pins are intended to be traded with other state’s athletes with the goal of receiving all 50 state pins and sharing your transplant experience story with each one. Jason has worked with PinProsPlus to design this year’s Illinois team pin. He enjoys gaining and trading pins throughout the event and looks forward to asking “Do you have my team pin, because I need yours!”. We wish Jason and all the participants in this year’s games luck. And if you happen to attend the event, see how many of the state pins you can spot as you support organ donations and transplants.