Eleven young patients from the Renal Unit at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children (RHSC) have triumphed at the weekend's British Transplant Games in Bath. The team has brought a total of eighteen medals back home, an excellent tally surpassing all expectations!
The young squad, ranging in age from 11 to 17, have all received kidney transplants at the Glasgow hospital and are now fighting fit and fresh from competing in Britain's national "Olympics" for former child transplant patients. The team's haul consists of a staggering 9 gold medals, 1 silver and 8 bronze.
Nine of the eleven participants are returning to the Games after successfully completing the competition in previous years, while two were attending for the first time. The youngsters come from all over Scotland, but have all been patients at the RHSC, and were accompanied to the tournament by four volunteer helpers.
Among those who made the trip was Renal Outreach Nurse Diane King, who says it was well worth all the preparation: "We all absolutely love taking part in the Games each year and everyone gets such a lot out of it! Obviously letting people know that you can get back to sport and even better levels of fitness after a transplant is important, but it's so much more than that.
"The youngsters get so many opportunities to show what they can do now that their health has improved – there's the competition itself, the travel, meeting new people and coping on their own. And you've never seen people who are so proud to represent Scotland!"
In common with the Olympics and many other sporting events, the Transplant Games opens with a formal opening ceremony, and the passing of the lit torch. Away from the Games' schedule, the Glasgow team has for the last three years staged an annual football friendly against the team from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
Bronze medal winner Emma Baxter from the South Side is a veteran of several Transplant Games and this year entered heats in running, badminton, long jump and ball throw. The seventeen-year-old was entering the Children's Games for the last time and says she'll miss the competition: "I've had a brilliant time taking part in the Games. You push yourself, you achieve new things and you meet other people who're all in the same situation as you, but you have such a great time too!
"All of us in the team encourage each other and I know it's a cliché but the taking part is just as important as winning a medal. Each year we choose one of the other team members who's shown determination and team spirit and that person wins the Team Award. I'm really going to miss going to the Games!"
The team receives financial support from Kidney Kids Scotland, Kidney Research UK, Children in Need and two Glasgow businesses, David Mitchell Plaster and Building Maintenance and Glencrest.