Anthony Nolan has announced we are one of the main sponsors of the British Transplant Games 2015 to be held in NewcastleGateshead on July 30th – 2nd August. And for the first time a ‘Team Anthony Nolan’ will be competing.
The British Transplant Games, which have been running since 1978, is a series of Olympic style events which sees all kinds of transplant recipients compete in the sporting events, including those who have had bone marrow and organ transplants.
Many of the inspirational competitors were facing their last chance of survival, before lifesaving transplants of hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers or bone marrow gave them a second chance.
Andrew backs the event
Andrew Hayden-Smith, actor and Newcastle local, is backing ‘Team Anthony Nolan’ at the games to thank the charity for saving his father’s life after a recent successful bone marrow transplant.
Andrew’s dad, Wayne, 67, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in July 2014 after abscesses on his liver developed into leukaemia. He then underwent three rounds of chemotherapy, but the family was told his best hope of cure was a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor.
It was then the family turned to the Anthony Nolan register to save his life and thankfully a donor was found.
Andrew says, “When we were told that Anthony Nolan had found a donor for Dad, it felt like there was hope and for the first time since finding out he was ill, that we had a good chance we could get through it.”
Wayne then underwent his transplant on Christmas Eve of 2014.
Andrew's dad Wayne
“Words can’t express how grateful I am to the donor - ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem to cut it. A completely selfless act from a total stranger saved my Dad’s life. Without them doing what they did, he might not be here today.”
“My Dad is doing well since his transplant. Docs are pleased with his progress. He’s going for walks, making sure he gets lots of regular exercise. First bone marrow test results have been positive. He’s even been told he can go away for a few days break which has given him lots of incentive to keep pushing on with his recovery.”
“I’m incredibly proud that the British Transplant Games are taking place in NewcastleGateshead this year. It’s a fantastic, vibrant city, full of inspirational and caring people, and the perfect place to host the games. The treatment and care my Dad received at the Freeman Hospital was outstanding. The nurses cared for my Dad so well during his treatment. What a great way to celebrate their hard work and the inspirational efforts of everyone who has recovered from a transplant in order to compete this year.”
Meet Luke - one of the inspiring competitors
One of this year’s competitors is 29 year old bone marrow transplant recipient, Luke Buckingham from Taunton. Luke will be joining the brand new ‘Team Anthony Nolan’ for this year’s games, as he says ‘exercise has been the single biggest thing that’s got me through my illness’.
Luke with his wife Holly on their wedding day
After Luke was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia for a second time in his mid twenties, he was told he needed a lifesaving bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant from a stranger on the Anthony Nolan register. A perfect match was found and Luke had his transplant in October 2012. Two years later, Luke met Richard, the man who saved his life.
Luke meets his lifesaving donor Richard
“I used to play semi-professional football and I’m Sports Development Manager at Bridgwater college so being active was such a big part of my life. Having that taken away from me and suffering from fatigue was very hard for me to deal with physically and mentally.”
'Exercise has been the single biggest thing which helped me overcome my illness as well as the support from my loved ones.'
Whilst waiting for his transplant Luke was told about the British Transplant Games by a fellow teacher.
Luke (on the far left) playing football
'It was great to have something to aim for whilst I was undergoing treatment. Exercise has been the single biggest thing which helped me overcome my illness as well as the support from my loved ones. The more exercise I did, the more energy I had..'
Luke competed in the British Transplant Games in Bolton last year taking part in the Volleyball, Badminton, Darts, Table Tennis, Discus and Javelin.
Andrew competing in badminton at least year's British Transplant Games
“It was very humbling and inspiring experience to compete with other transplant patients. A whole range of experience and skill levels can compete. It’s such a friendly atmosphere but there is a competitive element too.”
“Everyone is at different stages in their journeys, yes it’s great to get medals, but really the games are about celebrating life post transplant. I want to show everyone there are other things you can do other than ‘surviving’ post transplant – you can be active!”
Anthony Nolan and The Transplant Games
Beth Morris competed in last year's Transplant Games
Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, says “We are very proud to partner with the British Transplant Games 2015. Supporting this event is part of our ongoing commitment to supporting people like Wayne and their families through their transplant journey, from finding lifesaving donors to helping people live their lives to the full afterwards. The games will be a chance to celebrate life after transplant and the second chance that their donor has given them.
“At Anthony Nolan, we are dedicated to listening to our supporters, and the feedback from the inspirational competitors at previous games told us this was an exciting event and something to get involved in.”
If you are a transplant recipient or a stem cell or bone marrow donor, and you would like to compete for ‘Team Anthony Nolan’ at this year’s games, go to www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk.