Beth Morris, 17, was 17 months old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Beth had two years of chemotherapy and went into remission. But when she was four years old, she relapsed and her parents were told that she had a slim chance of survival: her best chance was to have a bone marrow transplant. After a year of searching, a match was finally found.
‘I have some memories of my transplant, but a lot of them are things that people have told me. It all blurs into one. I do remember that when I was really ill, my mum was very upset. So I stood up on the bed, went over to her and said, “Mum, I’m going to get better”.
After my transplant I wasn’t allowed to swim because of my low immune system. But I really wanted to learn so I could go and swim with dolphins in Florida. When I was ready, I started lessons and the instructor we found was also a teacher in a squad. That was it, really: I’ve never stopped since!
‘The most exciting part of my swimming career has to be attending the World Transplant Games in Australia in 2009 and Durban 2013. Just standing on the podium is absolutely amazing. I’m currently training for the 2015 world games in Argentina alongside helping sort out the next British Transplant Games in Bolton next year.
And I’m doing my A-Levels and planning for university, too – I’d love to study wildlife conservation. I’m not ever going to stop swimming or cycling, though; I’m going to keep going to the games and continue to raise awareness.
‘I’ve been given this gift of life, this second chance. I don’t intend to waste it. I hope that by being 17 and doing all the things I have, I can prove to people that anything and everything is possible: just because you’ve had a transplant doesn’t mean you can’t do amazing things. You can do amazing things because you’ve had a transplant.’