Eleven year old Charles went to his first British Transplant Games last year and can’t wait to do it all again. His mum, Sophie explains why.
Charles was diagnosed with biliary atresia at one month old, which means the tiny ducts outside his liver hadn’t developed properly so his liver couldn’t drain bile. He had a Kasai procedure at six weeks, where they attached his liver to his small intestine to provide drainage, but unfortunately this was unsuccessful and he ended up having a liver transplant at six months old. It was a slow recovery but by 18 months he was doing really well and has had very few health issues since then, just regular check-ups and medication.
We had heard about the Transplant Games through medic friends, and as Charles is a very active, sporty boy the idea seemed right up his street! We really didn’t know what to expect, but thought we’d give it a go so in 2022, we went to the Transplant Games in Leeds as part of the Kings children’s team.
We were so glad we did – Charles did amazingly! He won a gold medal for the 3k run, silver for cycling, bronze for 50m sprint and he also competed in swimming. Most importantly he had a fantastic time in the process. His two sisters enjoyed getting to take part in some fun activities and making new friends so we’re all going back again this year and really looking forward to it.
As well as enjoying the sporting side of the Games, Charles really appreciated meeting other children who had been through transplants and hearing about their stories. He is very sociable and there was always someone around to hang out and play games with, and it will be so valuable for him as he approaches the teenage years to have connections with others who have had similar experiences.
This was true of the whole family too, as we could meet and share with others who have had challenging journeys, and the rest of us took part in a Donor Run(/walk!) which was a truly inspiring experience. In addition, on top of fundraising for the King’s College Hospital charity, the Games raises awareness of organ donation and the benefits of transplantation – with so many children and adults competing who simply wouldn’t be there without their donors and families. What a wonderful celebration of life!
Charles is very much looking forward to doing it all again:
“Last year’s Transplant Games was really fun,” he says. “I especially enjoyed taking part in all the races and meeting new people. This year I’m competing in the 50m and 2.5k run, the 3k cycle and the long jump. And I’m really looking forward to meeting new people and wining more races!”