John’s story: British Transplant Games

"When we go to the games it feels like we are coming home"

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s British Transplant Games have sadly been cancelled. The annual sporting event brings thousands of transplant receipts and their families together to compete in sporting competitions, encouraging them to get fit after surgery and raise vital awareness of organ donation.

Leeds Cares supports Team Leeds competitors every year by helping to fund kit, accommodation, and travel, which next year will be held in Leeds between the 5th and 8th August.

Back in 2009 John started to become seriously ill. His mum Catherine explains: “He was diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney condition called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) which causes kidney failure. In 2010 he started intense dialysis at 11 years old, meaning gruelling daily trips to Leeds General Infirmary for three to four hours a day.”

It was finally in 2011, John was able to have his life-saving kidney transplant. During his three months of post-op care and recovery at the Leeds Children’s Hospital, he was introduced to the British Transplant Games, an annual sporting event bringing thousands of transplant receipts together to compete in sporting competitions and raise awareness of organ donation.

Play Specialists on his ward, who are also funded by Leeds Cares, recommended him to become a competitor at the Games. Catherine said: “We were so proud to see John compete in his first games in 2012 in London. He competed in so many competitions that year, including football, badminton and track and field.”

John has been clear of any complications for nine years, and 2021 will be the 9th games he competes in. Catherine and her family hold an annual charity football match with other transplant families, to raise money to fund John and other competitors to compete in the games. This year during their time in shielding, they have created football raffle cards which so far has raised over £1,000 for the Leeds Adults Transplant Team.

“When we go to the games it feels like we are coming home. Everyone knows everyone, and the support is unbelievable – it’s like an extended family.

I always raise money every year to show my appreciation for my son’s and other competitors’ life-saving treatment at Leeds – I cannot thank them enough for what they have done.”

Watch John on the official 2021 British Transplant Games launch video on our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Eo-fwtcPg