A team of nine young kidney transplant patients from Southampton Children’s Hospital are gearing up to take part in this year’s British Transplant Games – but need the support of the public to help them get there.
The four-day annual sporting competition, which begins on 2 August in Birmingham, is expected to attract more than 850 athletes – children and adults – who will compete in a range of events including tennis, swimming, athletics, cycling and football.
All participants from Team Southampton, who are aged between three and 16 years old, have received life-saving treatment at the city’s specialist nephrology unit, which treats young people with acute and chronic kidney disease and cares for around 40 transplant patients a year before and after surgery.
The unit is one of only 13 in the UK and treats patients from across the south and Channel Islands.
The team will be joined by siblings, parents and staff who will be among the 1,500-strong supporters set to take in the games, which are organised by the charity Transplant Sport.
Sarah Grylls, clinical nurse specialist in paediatric nephrology at Southampton Children’s Hospital, said:
“In the first year after transplant each child will have 57 planned visits to hospital and are likely to need additional unplanned visits – this is all time away from the home, friends, school and family.
“These children have an awful lot to manage which affects not only them but parents and siblings too. BTG has been a significant part of our annual activities since we first entered a team in 2012 and the positive impact this trip has on patients and their families cannot be underestimated.”
Fiona Delement, healthcare play specialist, added:
“Children who have not been able to compete with peers at school can finally do so on an even playing field – they can win medals, stand on a podium to loud cheers and achieve and overcome their own personal challenges.
“We also hold our own awards for those that are less sporty including ‘kindest competitor’ and ‘most smiley competitor’.
“Unlike many other teams we work tirelessly to raise enough funds to take all willing patients, their siblings and parents to the games and cover all transport, kit, food and accommodation costs so that this opportunity is available to all.”
“We’d like to thank the ongoing support of Kidney Care UK who have once again made a grant of £5,000 to help us enter a team into this year’s games,” said Jason Shauness, director of Southampton Hospital Charity.
“However, the team are still £5,000 short of the £13,000 target and we are now urging the public and businesses to get behind us so that we can help these incredibly brave young people enjoy an action-packed break away and fly the flag for Southampton Children’s Hospital.”
For more information on how to support Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity or to make a donation to the transplant games fund, call 023 8120 8881, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.schcharity.org.uk.