Martin Luther King’s famous words, “I have a dream”, could very well have been the inspiration to Peter Hansen, a Dutch Heart Transplant recipient who, in 1989, with the support of the Dutch National Heart Transplant Federation “Harten Twee”, invited Heart Transplant recipients from neighbouring countries to a weekend of sport at Gorssel in the Netherlands.
Such was the success of these Games and the recognition that “something special” had been started, that the French Heart Transplant Assocation, under the Chairmanship of Maurice Girod hosted the competition the following year.
In 1991 the Games were hosted by the British Heart Transplant Association at Hayes, Middlesex, just outside London under the Chairmanship of Ken Pinfield and Vice-President Geoffrey Finnigan.
In 1992 Peter Hansen and “Harten Twee” again hosted the Games, this time at the campus of Twente University at Enschede in the Netherlands. By this time the Games had grown to almost 200 competitors from 10 countries and where Jan Ras and Pieter Haak were key contributors.
It was here that the idea of a European Heart Transplant Federation was first discussed with Fernand Magdonelle and Geoffrey Finnigan as principal promoters. A draft proposal for statues for a Federation was presented during a meeting at Brussels in 1993 during 20km Brussels Marathon.
A final version was prepared at Tignes, France in January of 1994 and presented to all National Associations attending the 5th European Games at Helsinki, Finland in 1994 under the Chairmanship of Esko Laine and Secretary General Ilkka Vass. There the founding protocol was signed on July 3rd 1994 from 15 European National Heart- or Heart-Lung Transplant Associations.
The Federation was registered in Belgium and for many years every second General Assembly was held there and during the years of the Games GA was part of the program.
Geoffrey Finnigan of Great Britain was elected the first President of the Federation.
And after him the Presidents were: Henry Denneville (France), Audun Bell (Norway), Terry Mangan (Ireland), Arnulf Pohl (Austria), David Walker (United Kingdom), Brendan Gilligan (Ireland), Henk Bakker.
After the sudden death from Henk Bakker the current President is Karsten Zeh from the Germany.
On October 13th 2005 the name was amended to read: European Heart and Lung Transplant Federation (EHLTF).
The signatories were: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
From the signing ceremony:
Henri Denneville, the French representative, signing the founding protocol.
In the background from the left:
Mr. Ilkka Vass - Finland, Mr. Geoffrey Finnigan - Great Britain (The first President of the Federation), Mr Jean Marc Charlot - France, Mr. Esko Laine - Finland.
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