Transplant Games showcase the power of organ donation

By Mike Finney
Posted 7/4/24

MILFORD — Todd French is ready to take another swing at a huge step in his recovery from a heart transplant surgery nearly three years ago.

The Milford native will join nine other athletes …

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Transplant Games showcase the power of organ donation


MILFORD — Todd French is ready to take another swing at a huge step in his recovery from a heart transplant surgery nearly three years ago.

The Milford native will join nine other athletes on a team from Delaware who are participating in the 2024 Transplant Games of America in Birmingham, Alabama.

Mr. French will be part of the Gift of Life Donor Program — Team Philly. He will be playing golf in the Games, which begin on Friday and will last until Wednesday.

The Transplant Games honor the donors and families who gave others a second chance at life.

They provide transplant recipients with a national platform to honor their donors and show how much they can achieve post-transplantation.

Mr. French is excited to be a part of it all.

“When I first came across it a couple of years ago, I was excited and told everybody about it,” he said. “It happens every two years and I’ve been really looking forward to it. I golf a lot, so I’m out golfing all the time.

“I just want to get down there and (meet people who) kind of have similar stories to me and get some of my competitiveness out at the same time. It should be a good time, even though I checked the temperatures down there and it’s supposed to be about 100 (degrees) the day that I play.”

Lauren French, Todd’s wife, is not concerned about her husband taking to the golf course since he already does that anyway.

“We’re super excited,” Ms. French said. “The Transplant Games are so unique because they’re not exactly the most high-impact activities. But they’re more-so catered to people whose ability is not like that of an Olympian, but still feeling that competitive nature. So we’re excited to see how Todd does.”

Getting the message out

The 2024 Transplant Games of America are tied to the Gift of Life Donor Program’s 50th anniversary. The organization is using the milestone to try to register 50,000 more organ donors.

Todd Franzen, head of advocacy programs and events for Gift of Life, said around 40,000 people receive organ transplants every year.

There are around 100,000 people waiting for any organ transplant with around roughly 90,000 of them waiting for a kidney.

“Kidney, by far, is the organ that a lot of people need,” Mr. Franzen said. “That’s in large part due to issues with hypertension and diabetes. Those are the two main reasons why somebody’s kidney health declines to the point of suffering from renal failure and needing an organ transplant.”

Around 50% of Delawareans with a driver’s license or state ID have chosen to become organ donors.

“We want to get that all the way to 100%. But Delawareans have time and again shown their support for organ donation,” said Mr. Franzen. “We just need more people to do it and sign up online.”

There have been 838 organ transplants in Delaware since 1993.

“Nationally, the number has gone up for 10 straight years as far as how many people have received organ transplants,” Mr. Franzen said. “So, more and more every year are getting the gift they need. But just think of how many more we could save if everybody said yes (to organ donation). We could help those people in need.”

Gift of Life is using the Transplant Games to showcase how organ transplants can save lives.

“It’s an amazing affair,” Mr. Franzen said. “This will be my third Transplant Games ever that I’ve personally gone to and just seeing these people compete is great.

“Certainly, there’s people of all different athletic abilities that go to the Transplant Games and compete and it’s not like the other Olympics where you’re trying to break world records.”

It is the perfect chance to put the spotlight on how important organ donation can be.

“It’s a tremendous event,” said Mr. Franzen. “It’s a great way to showcase the success of organ donation because some people think, ‘Oh, he had a heart transplant. He can’t live a full life. He’s not healthy.’

“Well, that’s not the case. This is a terrific way to show the public that organ donation works.”

Any individuals interested in becoming an organ donor can register with the Gift of Life at

Staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at 302-741-8230 or
Follow @MikeFinneyDSN on X.

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