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‘We're alive!’ FCB backs organ donor campaign

Nick is eight years old and a fan of Bastian Schweinsteiger; Hanna (9) is thrilled by Manuel Neuer; Simon is also nine and his favourite players are Mario Götze and Thomas Müller – these are three of 13 children who will be the player escorts on Saturday evening on the occasion of Bayern’s home match against Hertha BSC. Their hearts will beat faster - but the fact they’re beating at all is the main point. All of them are only alive because of organ transplants. ‘We're alive’ will be the message on their t-shirts. It's the motto of the “KiO Day” which takes place in and around the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

“If you hear the kids' stories you get more than just goosebumps. It's a given for us to help KiO,” stressed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. KiO is a German acronym for Children's Aid – Organ Transplant. FC Bayern supports this registered association as a patron. “We had the shared idea of dedicating a matchday to this concept,” said Rummenigge, “we want to raise public awareness. Organ transplants are a crucial matter.”

‘The epitome of solidarity’

“In Germany, three people die each day because no organ is available,” reported KiO chairman Hans Wilhelm Gäb: “Everyone can fill out a donor card and have it in his or her wallet – that's all.” 75,000 flyers with a detachable donor card will be distributed in the arena on Saturday. There will be information stands on the esplanade.

Paul Breitner has carried an organ donor card with him since 1982. “It's next to my driver's licence,” the FC Bayern brand ambassador said. “To me, the willingness to donate organs is the epitome of solidarity and benevolence.” Breitner believes that the KiO day at the Allianz Arena will familiarise people with the subject.

Gäb hopes that the number of people with donor cards – at the moment 24 percent of Germans – will increase on Saturday. “I cannot think of a medium more potent than FC Bayern,” the former Opel chairman said. The record champions’ commitment also raises the motivation of affected children, families and doctors.

Long-term commitment

Gäb’s life was saved by a liver transplant in the mid-1990s. “This is how Franz Beckenbauer and I first became aware of the need for organ donors,” Rummenigge explained. The trio supported the formation of ‘Athletes for Organ Donation’ in 1998, the predecessor to KiO e.V., which was launched in 2004. KiO supports needy children requiring new organs and their families before and after transplants. At any given time some 200 children in Germany are waiting for life-saving transplant operations.

Nick, Hanna and Simon have been through it all: the waiting, the uncertainty, the anxiety, the procedure itself, the rehabilitation. The trio will now march into the Allianz Arena on Saturday hand-in-hand with the pros. A total of 124 eligible kids applied to be escorts with 13 eventually selected. “They’ve not been able to sleep for a few days. All the others received a nice gift from FC Bayern,” revealed Gäb: “I always knew FC Bayern aren’t just about winning. The club has a big heart.”