Going for Gold: Sunderland heart transplant girl heads for World Games

Kaylee Davidson from Sunderland will be going to the World Transplant Games in Durban later this month.
Kaylee Davidson from Sunderland will be going to the World Transplant Games in Durban later this month.
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MEDICAL miracle Kaylee Davidson-Olley is set to go for gold at the World Transplant Games.

The 26-year-old runner, who made history by undergoing the first baby heart transplant in the UK, will take on competitors from around the world at the sporting extravaganza in Durban, South Africa, later this month.

The sales assistant, from Houghton, will be part of the largest Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad which Transplant Sport has ever taken to the games when she takes to the track for the 100m, 200m, and, if selected, the 4x1 relay.

“I’m feeling really good about it,” she said. “I suffered an injury, which set me back a bit with my training, but I’m back on track now and can’t wait to get started.

“I’m just counting down the days.”

In 1987, Kaylee became the first successful baby transplant patient in the UK aged just five months.

Now the longest surviving baby transplant patient in the UK, the athlete, who is also competing in the ten-pin bowling, hopes to add to the five medals she won at previous games.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” said Kaylee. “Once you’re selected, you need to show your dedication, and it’s pretty much solid training from then on. Hopefully, though, it’ll all be worth it, and I’ll bring back a medal.”

The games, supported by the International Olympic Committee, will involve more than 1,000 other transplant athletes from 50 countries across the globe.

Lynne Holt, team manager and trustee at Transplant Sport, said: “The Games is a great opportunity for our transplant athletes to compete at an international level and to share their story and inspire people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register. Not only are these athletes ambassadors for our country, but they are also representing the charity, Transplant Sport, and hope to raise more awareness here in the UK and globally, of the need for more people to sign on to the register and express their wishes with family and friends.”

Shot-putter Kez Greenwood, from Hall Farm, is another heart transplant survivor preparing for the Games. He was given 36 hours to live after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2008. He was placed on the European critical transplant list and his life was saved when medics found a match.

Just nine months and one week after having the heart transplant, Kez became two-time British champion in the shot putt and discus in the UK Transplant Games.

l Pioneering heart team saving lives – Page 7

l Comment – Page 28