Games joy for Joanna after organ transplant
A 12-YEAR-old Penzance girl who had a kidney transplant only 15 months ago has shown she is well on the way to recovery by becoming the only Cornish person to compete at the 2013 UK Transplant Games in Sheffield.
Joanna Nankervis, competed in two individual swimming events – the 25m backstroke and 25m freestyle – and although she didn't win a medal, competing against 14-year-olds, she did record personal best times in both events and won a team medal in the tug-of-war event, competing for Bristol Children's Hospital renal unit team as well as taking part in the obstacle race.
Joanna, a student at Humphry Davy School who is also severely deaf, has suffered from a renal condition from birth but her condition deteriorated in the three years leading up to her successful kidney transplant last June. A girl who enjoys gymnastics and karate as well as swimming, going on dialysis meant that Joanna had to give up sports.
But since the transplant she has been working hard on her swimming with the help of swimming coach Olina Baker at Penzance Leisure Centre.
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Joanna's mum, Helen Nankervis-Smith, said that attending the games had been an "inspirational and humbling" experience.
"It was amazing to see the 700 or so transplant athletes who were aged from three to in their eighties, all putting the rest of us to shame," she said.
"And they all had something in common through their shared transplant experience which meant that for those four days they did not have to explain themselves to anybody.
"Joanna really loved it.
"As soon as we got on the train back to Penzance she started planning next year's event."
A staunch supporter of the campaign to get more people to register as organ donors, Helen said the publicity surrounding the Transplant Games meant that an extra 20,000 people have signed up as donors in Sheffield alone.
"If they can do that in Sheffield, just think what could happen if that was repeated all over the country," she added.
If you would like to find out more about how to become an organ donor, log on to www.organdonation.nhs.uk