The Transplant Games – poetry in Coventry and Warwick…

BCH at Coventry Games July 2023In all the tangled emotions associated with organ donations, the annual Transplant Games has more than a few to navigate. This year, in Coventry, the Games brought together around 1000 participants from transplant teams across the UK, and almost twice as many spectators.

Everyone there has a story to tell, and a goal of the Games is to tell those stories to anyone ready to listen. To show what life can mean with a new start, the gift of life from an organ donor. To encourage us all to have normal conversations about organ donation; to let our loved ones know our wishes should we ever be in the position to be a donor. To say thank you to all donors and their families, known or unknown. And to raise the roof in celebration of the chance to breathe again.

In early evening sunshine, teams and supporters paraded from the shell of the old Cathedral into Broadgate, the Square at the heart of Coventry City, and the opening ceremony began. Watched by Games participants and supporters, guests and civic dignitaries and by many others in the street cafes and surrounding balconies, a young woman took central stage.  18-year-old Doroti Polgar delivered a poem.  Doroti’s younger brother, Kristof, received the gift of new life when he was three years old.  Her poem is a letter written to her brother’s deceased young donor.

In April this year, in Perth, Australia, Kristof won four gold medals – tennis, table-tennis, squash and badminton. There were more medals to come in the UK Games in Coventry and Warwick.

Kristof Polger, World Transplant Games April 2023, Perth

Doroti has kindly provided a weblink for her performance and we are proud to offer it here…Dear Justin

– or read it below…

Dear Justin, I thought about you today.

I think about you every day. 

Yet it feels strange to know that we’ve never met and never will. 

At least not in this world. Not whilst I’m still around on Earth. 

Every time I think of you, everything stands still. 

Dear Justin, I’m writing to tell you that my brother was only a few months old when he became ill. 

He couldn’t eat, drink or even sleep.

“This medicine will make him better,” 

“sorry it didn’t work, we’re trying our best,”

“biopsy next weekend,” “maybe it’d be better to lay him to rest.”

“I gave him the food, but he’s thrown it up again,”

and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. 

My parents moved us overseas as we couldn’t accept defeat –

there had to be a way for him to live.

If only the odds had seen his smiling eyes, 

bright little mind and loving heart in the way that we all did.

Dear Justin, we arrived at our new home at the end of March:

we lived on the tenth floor of a flat overlooking the hospital;

the place where they told us he would need a new organ to live.

That a new organ is something only somebody else can give.

Dear Justin, he waited for the call with the phone grasped between his small fingers. 

The glass table which we sat around reflected his jaundiced eyes like a mirror.

We waited. The phone slept by his bedside.

We waited. The phone sat by us in the daytime.

We waited some more. And more.

We waited. And the phone rang.

My parents grabbed the bags that were already packed and said goodbye but came back the next day for it 

wasn’t a match. 

We waited. The phone slept by mum’s bedside.

We waited. The phone sat by her desk in the daytime.

We waited some more. And more.

We waited. And the phone rang.

My mum rushed from work and I was rushed from school to say goodbye, but they came back again for it 

wasn’t a match.

We waited. The phone slept.

We waited. The phone sat.

We thought of the sadness another would have to go through for him to receive his gift.

We dreamt of the new life his gift could bring.

And we waited some more. A week. Two weeks.

And the phone rang for the third time approaching February’s third week.

My parents grabbed the bags that were already packed, said goodbye and didn’t come back the next day for it 

was a match. 

It was the night you had gone to heaven and given him a second chance.

Dear Justin, his eyes turned from jaundiced to white in a matter of days, and we celebrated his third birthday.

Candles weren’t allowed on the ward, and he couldn’t yet eat cake, 

so we bought a teddy and decorated his bed with banners for the special day. 

Dear Justin, he started to stare out of the window each night, asking which star you are. If you are even a star at 


Maybe a cloud in the shape of a smile or a heart, or even the whole sky when the sun is out. 

He asked if you’re watching him, 

he asked me if you are proud.

He asked: “why is it that he had to die because of me?”

And I know that if you could, you would have answered this, so I answered him: ‘he didn’t die because of you. 

He died and chose to give his gift to you.’

Dear Justin, my mum wrote a letter to your family.

She began writing even though she didn’t know how to start it.

She said ‘thank you’ didn’t seem enough, 

so she filled the letter with photos and

all the things he can now do and dream of. 

Your mum sent a letter back a few months after,

along with a portrait a friend of hers had drawn of you and him sat side by side. 

Dear Justin, we told him all that your mum said about you.

We told him your name, and gave him the portrait of you together in an orange frame.

He wanted to hug you. He wanted to meet you. 

But we told him that we can’t in this world. 

Not whilst we’re still around on Earth. 

So he built a teddy, gave it a heart, named it Justin, and hugged it every day and every night. 

He still dreamed about meeting you,

but we knew that meeting your family would be the closest thing to that dream coming true. 

Dear Justin, we met your family on a day in early December. 

Your mum told us stories about you. 

She told us that your favourite colour was blue,

and he smiled because that was his favourite colour too.

Dear Justin,

Today marks twelve years since you went to heaven.

Today we’re celebrating twelve years since his gift – as he blows out the candles of the cake my mum stayed up 

all night to make, 

as we light the candle to remember you today –

I think back to the day your family took us to your favourite place…

From the shape of the leaves to the way the wind blows,

To the hope with which these trees grow,

The freedom with which the butterflies sing temporary goodbye,

And the endless life of your favourite-coloured sky.

From the way our feet fall into your footprints,

To your favourite bench on which we sit –

I see a piece of you living in everything… 

[Twenty-one second silence in honour of the twenty-one years Justin lived]

Dear Justin,

Twenty-one feels long when you 

stand through every second of it in silence.

I wonder how it felt to live through it in your silence.

I wonder if you know how loved you are.

I wonder if you know much you are missed

I wonder if you know how much he cares for your gift.

Dear Justin, people may say that it’s impossible to 

have memories of someone you’ve never met,

But I want memories of you. 

I want to remember you.

We are remembering you for what we know is true:

that even when life no longer brought you light, 

you raised your voice to allow your light 

to bring life to someone else.

That you chose for your last gift on Earth to be the gift of life