British Transplant Games
Born with a rare condition, Ava needed lots of hospital admissions. After the transplant, Ava learned to eat - something she has never done before...
Over four days at the end of July, a remarkable celebration of life will take place in Coventry, as over 1000 organ transplant recipients gather in the West Midlands to take part in the British Transplant Games.
One of those athletes competing will be 15-year-old Ava from Huddersfield, a talented swimmer who received a liver transplant at the age of five.
(Picture: Ava competed in the Perth World Transplant Games)
Born with a rare condition that causes ammonia to rise in her blood stream, Ava needed lots of hospital admissions and a gastrostomy feeding tube fitting when she was little.
After the transplant, Ava learned to eat - something that she had never done before.
Her mum, Caroline, says: “The transplant journey is hard, Ava’s condition was chronic, and her future was very uncertain.
“Life was a constant battle of hospitals stays, medicines, bloods and staying at home to be safe. It was rocky for the first 18 months and sometimes it was hard to know if it would get better but slowly the medicines started to reduce, then the blood tests and the hospital visits weren’t as often.
“Life started to change and to look back now it is completely different - for the better!”
If someone had told me when she was diagnosed that life would have been like this then I wouldn’t have believed them at all.
Caroline was a Sister in an Intensive Care Unit and also worked as an Organ Donation Link Nurse and Bereavement Lead within her hospital, so she already had a clear understanding of organ donation and what donor families went through.
Speaking about Ava’s donor and their family, she said: “I know that Ava’s donor was a young man and that it was an incredibly difficult decision for them to make.
(Picture: Ava received a liver transplant when she was five years old)
“I hope that knowing what a difference their decision has made to Ava’s quality of life will in some way help them.
“We are forever eternally grateful to them and think about them every step of the way.”
Ava had always loved to swim as a young child but often found it difficult due to her condition. Since her transplant, she’s built up her strength and stamina and is now a regular at The British Transplant Games.
She’s competed for nine years, travelling to Bolton, Liverpool, North Lanarkshire, Birmingham and Newport to represent the Leeds Transplant Team, and taking part in a home Games for her team, last year in Leeds.
In 2019, Ava was selected to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Newcastle. There she won an amazing five gold medals and set four world records in her age category!
We are forever eternally grateful to them and think about them every step of the way.
Earlier this year, Ava was again selected for Team GB for the World Transplant Games squad, though this time the Games took place much further away from home in Perth, Australia! Remarkably, Ava once again won five gold medals in her age category, becoming the champion swimmer in the 50m butterfly, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke, 100m freestyle, and freestyle relay events – with the team setting a new world record! She also added two silver medals to her haul from an extremely productive trip.
(Picture: Caroline and Ava)
Caroline says: “I am so proud of Ava. Despite everything she has been through she always has a smile on her face and never ever complained at missing out on the normal childhood events growing up.
“Being part of the Leeds Transplant Team and the Great Britain team has helped build Ava’s confidence, allowed her to make lifelong friends and not feel different.
“It’s amazing to see how well she is doing; I can get emotional over some of the ‘little’ or normal things that she achieves but knowing how hard she works in training and then watching her achieve her goals is so fantastic.
“She often looks at me and asks me if I’m going to cry ‘again’!
“If someone had told me when she was diagnosed that life would have been like this then I wouldn’t have believed them at all.”
For more information about the Transplant Games, please visit www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk
More than 7000 people need a lifesaving transplant right now, but only around 1400 people donate each year.
By taking two minutes to confirm your organ donation decision at www.organdonation.nhs.uk you could save up to nine lives.