A transplant patient has fought back from his hospital bed to scoop two medals at a major national sporting competition.
James Kirby, 20, of Victoria Drive, took home silver for table tennis and bronze for tennis at the British Transplant Games. After his success James was also named Sports Person of the Year by Guy’s Hospital, London.
Less than a year ago James had five operations and spent two months in hospital after one of his transplanted kidneys became infected.
“Winning a medal was not what I expected,” he said. “It was touch and go from the end of last year.
“The games were tough competition and it feels amazing to win because you fight through all the hardness and this gives you the chance to celebrate a second life.”
More than 750 athletes competed in the games from August 7-10. All of them have had a life-saving organ transplant.
James’ own transplants date from 13 years ago, when his mother donated her kidney to replace one of his.
In 2010 an anonymous donor gave James his second kidney. Speaking this week James stressed that organ donation can change lives, and urged Herald readers to sign up to the national register.
“It’s so important that organ donation gets recognised,” he said. “It does change people’s lives. I went from being pushed around in a pushchair when I was younger to competing in these national games.
James, who was selected as an Olympic torchbearer in 2012, is now making a short film with the NHS to promote organ donation.
Dr Parmit Chowdhury is James’ consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. He said, “On behalf of the kidney transplant team at Guy’s, I’d like to say a huge well done to James for being named Guy’s sports person of the year at the British Transplant Games. For someone so young, he’s been through a lot, and his achievements will be an inspiration to other young people with kidney disease.”
James is now waiting to hear if he has been selected for the Great Britain squad for the World Transplant Games, held in Argentina next year.
James is shown here with his father Rupert. To learn more about organ donation, visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk