Steve Philpot stated: "It was my great privilege and honour to be the Transplant Games Medical Officer. The games were a chance for me to realise what an extraordinary opportunity some are given through organ transplantation.  I was struck not only by the energy and abilities of participants, but also by the tremendous spirit in which they competed.  I will remember the games as both a celebration of life and recognition of the selfless decisions that organ donors and their families have made.  Most certainly, their organ donations have had a powerful impact on our society, as demonstrated by the community of transplant recipients and their supporters."

Every two years, Transplant Australia (TA) organises and runs the Australian Transplant Games, an event held over several days in which members of the organ transplant and organ donation communities compete in sporting events to promote the message of support for organ donation and transplantation activities.  In 2014, this event was held in Melbourne at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) in Albert Park.  The games comprised more than 20 different sporting events.There were a total of 806 participants.  They were transplant recipients, those awaiting transplantation, living donors, surviving family members of deceased donors and supporters of organ donors and recipients.The event depends upon a large number of volunteers.  This year, 53 people volunteered in the role of health care provider, of whom 37 were staff members of Alfred Health.  They were nurses, physiotherapists and doctors.

Steve and his team were responsible for the smooth running of the games , which involved considerable work.
The ROLE OF THE TRANSPLANT GAMES MEDICAL OFFICER was to coordinate the medical response before and during the games, and to be  available throughout the games to be contacted by other health care volunteers.  The role also included

Close liaison with event coordinators

Attendance at all high-risk events

Assistance with rostering health care volunteers

Liaison with Ambulance Victoria State Events Coordinator and paramedics

Consultation with public health specialists

Consultation with VMIA to arrange medical indemnity for volunteers

Liaison between Transplant Australia and Alfred Health

Event promotion within Alfred Health

Liaison with transplant units at Royal Children’s Hospital and the Austin Hospital


1. Screening of participants

All participants who wished to participate in the games were required to have a medical summary completed by their own transplant physician which summarised their medical history, provided a list of medications and a list of most recent blood tests, and also provided a declaration by that transplant physician that they felt it was safe for that person to participate in their chosen events.   Any medical certificates which were incomplete or which raised concerns were  followed up by the Transplant Games Medical Officer (TGMO). 

2. Public health/infectious diseases plan

In consultation with Infectious Diseases specialists from The Alfred Hospital, a contingency plan was created which would be enacted in the event of an actual or potential infectious disease outbreak.

a) All participants were advised prior to the games to not attend the games if they were unwell.

b) Signs were displayed at the registration desk urging all participants when registering for the games to self report any of the following:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose/cold
  • New onset diarrhoea
  • New rash

Core temperature was to be checked in any participant reporting these symptoms. 

Any patient with diarrhoea was to be excluded from participation in the games until 48 hours after resolution of symptoms.

Any patient with either cough, cold or rash AND a fever was to be excluded from participation in the games until after resolution of their symptoms.

 3. Indemnity for volunteers

The Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) was contacted, and agreed to provide indemnity for health care staff providing medical advice and treatment who were not covered by their own private indemnity fund. 


The medical support during the games depended upon the generous support of a large number of volunteers, predominantly from the Alfred Hospital, but also including local General Practitioners and GP trainees.  All volunteers did so in their own time.  The plan consisted of 4 tiers of support:

1. First Aid at events-  Each event other than those deemed very low risk had immediately available first aid support tailored to need, based on the intensity of the sporting event.

2. On-site medical clinic- A GP-style medical clinic was available for participants for low acuity medical problems, in order that they could seek non-urgent health advice and treatment without attending a local GP or an Emergency Department.  The clinic was staffed by nursing and medical volunteers and local general practitioners or GP trainees.  The Lakeside Sports Clinic at MSAC was approached, and allowed use of one clinic room for one to two hours per day.

3. Telephone consultation support- Staff from each local transplant unit were available to receive phone calls from the Transplant Games clinic staff seeking advice

4. In-patient services-  Those participants requiring inpatient services, including Emergency Department review, were to be referred to the Alfred Hospital Emergency Department, with transfers coordinated by the TGMO.   Several patient required dialysis support during the games.  This was not provided by Alfred Health, and was arranged by Transplant Australia.


Equipment  was provided by Alfred Health, with the exception of the first aid kits provided by Transplant Australia, and in addition to the equipment provided by Ambulance Victoria for the paramedics.


Steve wished to ACKNOWLEDGE the following people and organisations for their support in implementing the Health, Safety and Medical Management plan for the 2014 Transplant Games

1.    Alfred Health

a.    A/Prof Andrew Way, CEO

b.    Organising committee

  • Mandy Sandford
  • Professor Trevor Williams
  • Laurie Keown
  • Dr Rowan Walker

c.    Physiotherapy department, particularly Kate Hayes and Ben Tarrant who coordinated the fantastic response from this unit

d.    Heart and Lung Transplant Units

e.    Emergency Department

f.      Infectious Diseases unit (particularly Dr Allen Cheng)

g.     Intensive Care Unit

h.    Pharmacy

i.      Public Affairs

2. Ambulance Victoria

a.    Andy Watson, State Events Manager, and team

3. Other

a.    VMIA

b.    Royal Children’s Hospital (Amanda Walker and Team)

c.     Austin Hospital Liver Transplant Unit (Peter Angus and team)

d.    Dr Judith Kirkwood, Dr Simon Wong, Dr Wilson Chong


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