Sports help boost confidence, say transplant patients
Organ transplant recipients find that sport helps them achieve their full potential while nurturing optimism - and they want more of it. They are calling for more events aimed specifically at transplant athletes.
'Playing sports helps strengthen my self-confidence,' said teenager Alvin Wong Chung-man, who had a liver transplant when he was just 10 months old and represented Hong Kong in skiing at the Winter World Transplant Games in Switzerland last month.
'It would be good if there were similar sports games held in Hong Kong. I could make friends with other transplant teenagers.'
Wong, 14, whose ambition is to be a professional sportsman, is a member of his school's tennis, volleyball and distance-running teams.
In Switzerland, he took part in the Nicholas Cup, a ski competition for beginners and ranked fifth among 34 entrants, all under 17.
The Hong Kong Society of Transplantation, which arranged Wong's trip, has led transplant patients to the Summer World Transplant Games three times since 2007 - in Thailand, Australia and Sweden - and they won numerous medals.
But it was the first time there had been a Hong Kong representative at the winter games.
'Such competitions can show that transplant patients can be as normal as, and even better than, ordinary people which, in turn, promotes the importance of organ donation and increases the number of donors,' said Dr Chau Ka-foon, a past president of the society.
She said that some transplant children were overprotected by their parents and seldom participated in sport, thus missing the chance to build their physical strength and confidence.
The society, which receives no financial help from the government, raises funds from pharmaceutical companies and charity funds.
It plans to support more transplant patients to join the summer games in South Africa next year.
It will also hold two days of games at the Tsing Yi Sports Ground for transplant patients with the Hong Kong Sport Transplant Association in November.