Young patients from Southampton Children's Hospital go for gold at British Transplant Games
A team of 11 young transplant patients treated at Southampton Children’s Hospital are going for gold as they compete in the British Transplant Games.
This year’s event, which runs from 28th – 31st July and takes place in Leeds, is expected to attract more than 850 athletes who will compete in a range of sporting events including track and field, fishing, badminton and volleyball over the course of four days.
The competitors, aged between three and 14, have all received life-saving treatment at Southampton Children’s Hospital’s specialist nephrology unit, which treats young people with acute and chronic kidney disease and cares for around seven transplant patients a year before and after surgery.
They make up ‘Team Southampton’ and will be joined by parents, siblings and staff who will be among the 1,700 strong supporters set to take in the games, which are organised by charity Transplant Sport.
Katie Hart, clinical nurse specialist in paediatric nephrology at Southampton Children’s Hospital, said: “We’re delighted to be able to enter a team into the British Transplant Games once again, especially after a three-year break because of Covid.
“It’s such a fantastic event that brings young patients and families together to do something that is so much fun and at the same time rewarding. This year we are a 52-strong team made up of our patients, their families and staff.”
Claire Kelly, staff nurse specialist at Southampton Children’s Hospital, added: “It is amazing to see the smiles on our children’s faces and see the joy that being involved in such an event brings to all our families, who have each been through some very difficult times. It’s a privilege and an honour to be involved in such a heart-warming event.
“We’re sure the team will achieve great things while they are here, but they are already heroes in our eyes.”
The group will also use their participation as a platform to raise awareness of the NHS organ donor register – discussing the importance of sharing wishes with loved ones while also celebrating life and giving thanks to donor families and living donors.
Mason Read, 7, from Winchester, is one of the competitors in Team Southampton. He was diagnosed with posterior urethral valves [PUV] when he was born and spent most of his young life on dialysis, before receiving a kidney from his dad Lawrence in 2017.
Lawrence, who has accompanied Mason to the Games, said “Mason is super excited to compete in this year's British Transplant Games, especially after the delay due to Covid-19. It’s a great week for the families that have had tough journeys"
It costs approximately £1,000 to send a child to the games and the team’s entry has been made possible through the support of Southampton Hospitals Charity and Kidney Care UK.
Catherine Jordan, head of charity communications, said: “Southampton Hospitals Charity is incredibly proud to support our young transplant patients from the Children’s Hospital and this is an event we look forward to each year. The sheer determination shown from the children is inspiring and we wish them all the very best.
Paul Bristow, Chief Executive of Kidney Care UK, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the Team from Southampton Children’s Hospital to help them compete in the British Transplant Games 2022 in Leeds.
“We have been a proud partner of the Transplant Games for the last 10 years and we’re looking forward to another fantastic event. The Games are an incredible opportunity to unite the transplant community, especially after the last two years and the struggles many in our community have faced.
“Whether you are there to enjoy the camaraderie, to take part, or to win, everyone is there for the same reason: to show the world that organ donation and transplantation changes lives.”