INSPIRATIONAL transplant recipients will compete in North Lanarkshire at the 2017 British Transplant Games (BTG).

Hundreds of people who have had life-changing surgery will gather to show their gratitude to the donor families who have helped them.

The event, which was officially launched at Cathedral Primary School in Motherwell this morning, is expected to attract more than 750 transplant athletes and more than 1,500 supporters to North Lanarkshire in August 2017.

Organised on behalf of the charity Transplant Sport and supported by not-for-profit health insurer Westfield Health, the aim of the Games is to raise awareness of organ donation and boost numbers on the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR).

The launch was attended by North Lanarkshire pupils Kaitlin Taylor and Joe Allan who have represented Glasgow Children's Team at several Transplant Games.

The pair are featured on the promotional materials for the 2017 North Lanarkshire Games.

Kaitlin said: "It's great that North Lanarkshire is hosting the Games and that we'll get to take part in front of our friends and family."

Joe, 16, had a kidney transplant in May 2012 and says the operation was life-changing for him.

The school pupil, who attends Buchanan High in Coatbridge, was born with kidney problems and said he felt constantly ill before his operation.

Joe said: "I'm really nervous and excited about taking part in the Games. It's going to be brilliant.

"We've taken part in many transplant games throughout Britain; it's really exciting that it's coming here. I just wish it was happening sooner.

"Before my kidney transplant I was sick all the time, I was just really, really ill.

"But now I feel so much better and can take part in sport, which I never could have before."

Joe shows a keen interest in athletics and plans to explore tennis at the NewcastleGateshead Games this summer.

Councillor Jim McCabe, Co-Chair of BTG North Lanarkshire 2017 and Leader of North Lanarkshire Council, said: "It is a magnificent honour for North Lanarkshire to host the British Transplant Games in 2017.

"It gives me immense pride to welcome the wider games family to North Lanarkshire, the support everyone has shown us paints a strong picture of things to come.

"Following on from the success of the 2011 International Children's Games and more recently, as host and training venue of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, supporting the British Transplant Games is a hugely worthwhile commitment and one that North Lanarkshire is proud to make.

"These games are not solely about sport, but they have a human side too.

"They demonstrate the courage and personal endeavour of those who take part and the appreciation of the unimaginable pain and courage of the donor families.

"We delivered the best ever Children's Games and we will deliver the best Transplant Games."

Swimming will take place in Sir Matt Busby Sport Complex with athletics at Wishaw Sports Centre.

All the other sports will be delivered at different sport centres around the local authority area.

There will be around 17 sports available in total.

Ian Livingstone, co-chair of BTG North Lanarkshire 2017, added: "The British Transplant Games is held over four days, delivering a whole range of sporting opportunities, with the key aim to encourage transplant patients to regain fitness and promote friendship whilst raising awareness to the wider public.

"We are proud to host the British Transplant Games. We have the facilities, we have the dedication and drive to deliver an exceptional event and we have the support. Support in abundance if today is anything to go by.

"We understand that if it was not for people signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register there would be no Transplant Games. That is one of our many challenges. NL2017 will deliver an array of awareness campaigns, at local level, to educate and raise awareness of what the NHS Organ Donor Register is. Through the help and support of professionals, many of whom are here this morning, we aim to dispel the many myths of organ donation."

Peter Hickey received a bone marrow transplant in 2006 following a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2004.

The 53-year-old endured a course of chemotherapy but the illness returned a year later.

Fortunately for Peter, his younger sister was a 100% tissue match and, after a bone marrow transplant, he is now in remission.

Peter became involved in the British Transplant Games in 2007 and is now Volleyball Coordinator for Transplant Sport.

He has played at the World Transplant Games in the Gold Coast, Australia; Gothenburg, Sweden; Durban in South Africa; and will this year travel to Argentine for the Games.

Peter said: "I was very fortunate that my sister was a 100% and I've not really looked back since.

"The Transplant Games are tremendous and really heartwarming to see young kids getting involved as well as the older people.

"Transplants are life saving and the Games are a celebration of life."