The biennial World Transplant Games will be coming to Leuven in july 2027. The games are an international multisport event for transplant patients and living donors.
The games are a tribute to the donors and their families and aim to promote the importance of organ donation through sport. Last year, a bid to host the games in 2025 in Leuven was submitted, but that organisation was awarded to the city of Dresden. Because the World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF) were impressed by the Leuven bid, the federation chose Leuven for the organisation of the next games in 2027.
"The World Transplant Games will take place in Belgium for the very first time, and we are proud to welcome another world-class sporting event to our city", says mayor Mohamed Ridouani. “These games symbolise the inclusive city that we are. In Leuven we make it possible for everyone to participate in sport ansd exercise, regardless of your background, or physical condition. because exercise and sport are essential for a healthy life. In addition, we want to raise awareness for organ donation and give transplant patients an inspiring perspective on what is possible. Togethers with the organisational partners, the residents of Leuven, the athletes and their friends and family we will turn into a wonderful and sportive gathering.”
We want to put Transplantoux's slogan - 'connected for life' - and the games' slogan - 'moving forward together' - into practice
With UZ Leuven, KU Leuven and Transplantoux, Leuven has three important players in transplants and the support of transplant patients. Add to this the fact that Leuven is a real sports city, and it immediately becomes clear why the games were awarded to the capital city of Flemish-Brabant.
“The games perfectly align with Transplantoux's values: bringing transplanted people together and motivating them to exercise, exercise and live healthy lives to further improve post-transplant success. Exercise as medicine as it were”, says prof. dr. Diethard Monbaliu, transplant surgeon at UZ Leuven and chairman of Transplantoux, the running engine behind the candidacy. “Just like the World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF), Transplantoux and the city of Leuven share the same passion and ambition: get as many people into exercise as possible. Together! Exercise as often and as healthily as possible, to keep growing and to stay connected. We want to turn the slogans of Transplantoux – connected for life – and that of the games – moving forward together – into practice.”
Liz Schick, chair of the World Transplant Games Federation, knows Transplantoux well. "Twenty-five years ago, I underwent a transplant myself and got to know about Transplantoux in the years that followed. The organisation does a fantastic job by uniting people that are interested in, or active in, researching physical activity and transplantation, and transplant patients. Both myself, as well as the entire federation are looking forward to Leuven 2027.”
Sports city Leuven
Sports alderman Johan Geleyns is also delighted with the arrival of the gamesan. “After the World Cycling Championships of 2021, the World Breaking Championships at the end of September and the World Gravel Championship in 2024, Leuven can once again get ready for a sporting event with international alluere. We are already eagerly looking forward to that. Transplant patients are people that move mountains in their lives. In 2027, we want to celebrate their commitment and the importance of a sporting life, together with transplanted athletes from around the world. As the city of Leuven we are proud and honoured to be part of this inspiring story. Together we will make it an unforgettable edition.”
The games are an ideal means of putting the positive story of transplants into the spotlight. “Sports games can highlight the benefits of transplants and show families of donors the positive impact that donation has brought about”, says prof. dr. Dimitri Mikhalski, chairman of the Belgian Transplantation Society (BTS). “In addition, the games can help ensure that the number of donors in our country continues to increase.”
Rector Luc Sels of KU Leuven is already looking forward to the games. “The World Transplant Games combine attention for the importance of organ transplants with firm sporting ambitions, something we at KU Leuven are keen to support. This we do together with the university hospital, which plays an important pioneering role in the field of transplants, both in Belgium and in Europe.”
Also UZ Leuven welcomes the news. Medical director prof. dr. Gert Van Assche: “Every year we perform more than 300 organ transplants. This makes UZ Leuven the biggest transplant centre in Belgium and one of the leading centres in Europe. We'd like to make these games unforgettable and look forwards to welcoming everyone to Leuven.”
Because Leuven does not have all the necessary sports facilities, some of the sport disciplines will have to be diverted to other cities and towns. For example, swimming will most likely take place in Louvain-la-Neuve.