Three years ago a transplant transformed the life of a young Harrogate schoolgirl with Leukemia.
Now ten-year-old Rosie Ford’s determination to succeed at sport is transforming it all over again.
Such are this remarkable youngster’s recent achievements on the track, she’s been filmed for a BBC documentary about the World Transport Games which run from which run in Gateshead from August 17-24.
Rosie, herself can’t wait to take part in what is the largest organ donor awareness event in the world.
She said: “I am very excited to be picked for the Great Britain team. I loved my training sessions at Warwick University and made some new friends. I can’t wait to run in Newcastle.”
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When not training with fellow members of the 320-strong transplant athletes in the British team, Rosie practices with friends and members of her family, including her mum Lisa, who is also a runner.
Lisa said: “We are so excited Rosie has been selected for team GB. Athletics is her chosen sport.
All our family and friends have been helping us to fundraise and make it the best experience possible for Rosie in the competition.”
Like Rosie, every member of the British team at the World Transplant Games has survived a heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, liver, small bowel or bone marrow transplant.
Lisa said her daughter’s experience of joining the squad and training with other people had been invaluable to her daughter, irrespective of the actual races themselves.
She said: “It’s been lovely for Rosie to spend time with children who had similar experiences and nice for the parents to chat, too.
“It is such a friendly group. From the management team of Lisa Beaumont and Celia McKenzie to all the other families, everyone has been so welcoming.
“We completely understand each other’s ups and downs. Any family that gets this opportunity should completely embrace it.”
Rosie’s bid for glory at the World Transplant Games, which takes place every two years and is supported by the International Olympic Committee, will include the 50 metre sprint and ball throw.
The smiling youngster, who is a pupil at North Rigton Primary School, has come such a long way in such a short space of time since she was first diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia in December 2015.
Despite a course of chemotherapy, doctors decided the then eight-year-old needed a bone marrow transplant.
Fortunately, a donor was found quickly in Italy and she had her transplant in April 2016 after three rounds of chemotherapy and conditioning chemotherapy.
After recovering from the successful operation, Rosie left in May 2016. It has been a tough time for her but the little girl has bounced back in double-quick time.
Rosie said: “It was hard being in transplant isolation. I missed seeing my friends. But the nurses were all lovely and I was very well looked after. I’m excited to be going to the games.”
It’s not the first time Rosie has taken part. In fact, she is already a medal winner after success at previous Transplant Games in Scotland in 2017 and Birmingham in 2018.
Rosie’s efforts on the track will also contribute to the work of charities.
Lynne Holt, the British team manager said: “Not only are these athletes ambassadors for organ donation, but they are also representing the charity, Transplant Sport, and hope to raise more awareness of the need for more people to consider donation and sign on to the Organ Donor Register.”
World Transplant Games: Key facts
Great Britain will have the largest team in the world at the World Transplant Games with 320 transplant athletes, including 35 juniors,
In total15 live donors and 400+ supporters, will also be descending on Newcastle/Gateshead fo rthe games.
Forty per cent of the team are new members and all the transplant athletes have been selected following their success at last year’s Westfield Health British Transplant Games in Birmingham.
They have all survived a heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, liver, small bowel or bone marrow transplant, and come from all parts of the UK.
Organ Donation: Key facts
Around 6,000 people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant, with around three people dying each day in need of an organ.
Tell your family and friends you want to save lives through organ donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.
Even if your name is on the register, your next kin will be asked to confirm that your decision has not changed.
Please tell your family you want to donate. It will make things easier for your family at a difficult time.
Anthony Nolan charity and stem cell donation: Key facts
Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancer. The charity uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients in need of stem cell transplants.
We need more young men aged 16-30 to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 16% of the register.
At Anthony Nolan, they want someone who has a transplant to have the greatest possible chance of life.
However, currently, only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best possible match, and this drops dramatically to 20.5% if you’re from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
By building and diversifying the register, the charity will be able to provide the best match to even more people with blood cancer.