Brave boy strikes gold at transplant games
An eight-year-old who had a liver transplant to save his life when he was a baby has won two gold and two silver medals at the British Transplant Games.
William Swan-Dennis, of Collingham, was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer when he was five months-old.
He had a transplant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital five months later and has to return there for regular checks.
His mother, Mrs Angela Swan-Dennis, said a recent blood test, followed by a biopsy, showed William was rejecting his liver at the moment. and may eventually need another transplant.
"Despite all that, he still wanted to go, take on the challenge and work hard to win a medal," said Mrs Swan-Dennis.
William won golds in football and table tennis, and silvers in the 50m sprint and ball throw.
"It felt amazing to win the medals," he said.
William dedicated his gold in football to his older brother, Thomas, 21, who has a brain tumour.
Thomas underwent brain surgery while he was awake in a bid to remove the tumour, because it was on the part of the brain that controls speech.
The surgery was not successful in removing all the tumour and Thomas is being treated for a grade two diffuse astrocytoma, with some changes to a grade three.
The life expectancy for a grade two tumour of that kind is seven to 14 years — for grade three it is reduced to three to five years.
William was part of Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s 57-strong team — known as Birmingham’s Courageous Heroes — who won 114 medals at the games.
"It was the second time I have been," he said. "Last year it was in Scotland, where I won a silver and a bronze.
"My favourite part is having fun and making lots of new friends."
William plays football for Collingham Cougars, where his father, Mr Rick Swan-Dennis, is a coach.
"I find it very emotional, to see what he has been through to where he is now. Running around and competing for medals is amazing," said Mr Swan-Dennis.
William also took part in a 3km donor run, to highlight the donor register and associated charities.
Members of the Donor Family Network were at the games and marched through Birmingham, raising awareness of the importance of donors.
"The games are a celebration of life, and the life that donors have given to others," said Mrs Swan-Dennis. "The children realise this and that is why they put so much into it."
Mr Swan-Dennis said: "The games show how transplants change people’s life. It is not a hindrance to have a transplant, and the games shows that people can still do anything they want.
"It is important to get the message out there and raise awareness of the organ donor register — and that donors help to sustain the life of others."