Patients at Evelina Children's Hospital gear up for Transplant Games

Thursday 23 August 2012

Transplant Games athletes and the organisers

Move over Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, 39 children from the Evelina Children’s Hospital transplant unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ are gearing up for their own Olympics – the Westfield Health British Transplant Games.

The British Transplant Games have been held every year since 1978, and the thirty fourth games kicked off today, Thursday 23 August, in Medway, Kent. Children who have all had different types of organ transplants, including kidney, liver, heart and lung, compete against around 16 teams from other hospitals. The Evelina are taking a team of children aged between four and 17 who have all had kidney transplants – and it’s the biggest team to date.

The Evelina team will compete in a range of sports over four days including track and field athletics, swimming, table-tennis and badminton.

Sixteen-year-old Shaquille Porter had a transplant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ when he was five. This is his sixth time competing in the Transplant Games and he’s not holding back – he is competing in the long jump, 100-metre sprint, 200-metre relay, ball throw and the table tennis. “I like challenging people, I’m very competitive,” he said. “The best thing about the Games is meeting people and making new friends.”

Senior play specialist Cathy Gill, and paediatric transplant nurse specialist Grainne Walsh, along with their team of dedicated volunteers, will accompany the children to the Games.

This year is Cathy Gill’s twentieth Games with the children: “This year is particularly special as it is the closest to us it has been held.

“Organising the team involves a lot of meetings, huge amounts of paperwork and administration. We also get involved in fundraising to support the families taking part, and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, British Kidney Patients’ Association along with the Kidney Patient Association are also a massive help.

“But all the hard work is worth it when we’re there and we see how happy they are. Even after all these years of being involved I still get goose bumps during the Transplant Games Opening Ceremony.”

Grainne Walsh added: “Many children go through a tough battle with their treatment after having a transplant, so these games and the awards they win are really a celebration of their lives.”

When our young patients reach adulthood, they can join our adult team – this year there are 30 adults competing between the ages of 18 and 62. Our adult team are able to compete in an even wider range of events from golf to fishing and ten pin bowling.

Last updated: August 2012

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