Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan and its team of 14 people who received a lifesaving stem cell transplant are heading to North Lanarkshire for the British Transplant Games.
The British Transplant Games is an annual event, this year being held from Thursday 27 July – Sunday 30 July in North Lanarkshire, in which people who have received lifesaving organ or stem cell transplants take part in a series of Olympic-style events.
The Games aim to demonstrate the benefits of transplantation, encouraging transplant patients to regain fitness, whilst increasing public awareness of the need for more people to join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register and the NHS Organ Donation Register.
Alex Hannard is taking part in the Archery, Table Tennis, Track & Field and Swimming events in the 15-17-year-old category.
When he was five years old, Alex was diagnosed with Chronic Granulomatous Disorder (CGD), a rare genetic condition that affects the immune system.
During Christmas 2011, with help from Anthony Nolan, Alex was finally able to have a stem cell transplant thanks to an anonymous donor.
Alex was unable to take part in sport before his transplant because of the risk of infection or injury which could have been life-threatening due to his Primary Immune Deficiency.
Alex’s mum, Lou Hannard, said: ‘For Alex to take part in such a large sporting event now is amazing. It means so much to him as it allows him to participate and actually compete on a level playing field.’
Tom Scott, a sports coach from Edinburgh, received two stem cell transplants after suffering from Hodgkin's Lymphoma. After a very difficult few years of treatment, he made a remarkable recovery and is participating in both the 5k and 1500m events at this year’s British Transplant Games in North Lanarkshire.
He’s really keen to raise money and awareness for Anthony Nolan – due to his mixed race background, it was more difficult for him to find a perfect match through Anthony Nolan and he’s keen to raise awareness about stem cell donation among people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
Tom Scott said that challenge events have been a huge part of his recovery. He said: ‘I almost did the British Transplant Games last year, but this year saw it was in North Lanarkshire and knew I should go for it.’
He added: ‘Am I in it to win? Absolutely. 100%. A million per cent. In a selfish way, I’m really desperate to win and I’ll be disappointed if I’m not at least on the podium. The people who know me well, my friends and family, know that I’m the sort of person who loves to win!’
Chiara DeBiase, Assistant Director of Patient Services at Anthony Nolan, said: ‘We are delighted to bring Team Anthony Nolan to the Westfield Health British Transplant Games for the third year.
‘The Games are a testament to the incredible spirit and determination of people who have gone through an incredibly difficult time through illness. What this event shows is how stem cell donation can allow people to go on to live rich, healthy and fulfilling lives.
‘Last year, Team Anthony Nolan did fantastically – bringing home our best ever medal haul – and we’ll be cheering on our team, ready for another brilliant year.’
Find out more about Anthony Nolan, and to join the stem cell register, visit www.anthonynolan.org