The heart transplant baby who became a track star

Kaylee celebrating her relay win
Kaylee celebrating her relay win
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MEDICAL miracle Kaylee Davidson-Olley has struck gold at the World Transplant Games.

The 26-year-old runner, who made history by undergoing the first baby heart transplant in the UK, took on competitors from around the world at the competition in Durban, South Africa, earlier this month.

The sales assistant, from Houghton, was part of the largest Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad which Transplant Sport has ever taken to the games, winning gold in the 4x100 metres relay.

“It was like a dream come true to win gold for my country in such an amazing race,” she said.

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 has won five medals at previous games, also smashed her personal best times in both 100 metres and 200 metres and took bronze in the tenpin bowling.

Heart transplant baby Kaylee Davidson

Heart transplant baby Kaylee Davidson

“I am so grateful to my donor family for allowing me to live life to the full and I hope that my achievements will prove that transplantation works,” she said.

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

Proud mum Carol Olley, who is the junior team’s manager, said: “I am so proud as the team were incredible and brought home 27 gold, 11 silver and six bronze medals – each and every one of them a credit to their sport, their families and their country.

“As a mum, Kaylee’s success was the icing on the cake and I am not ashamed to say that her step-dad Steve and I both cried at her achievements and her determination to succeed.

“Kaylee really deserves the credit for proving that her hard work paid off and we are incredibly proud that she is an inspirational figure to the young athletes.

“Amongst the celebrations, however, we never forget that we are one of the fortunate families whose child’s life was saved by transplantation and we ask that families have that important discussion about organ donation.”

Another transplant marvel from Wearside, Kez Greenwood, struck gold at the games.

Hall Farm dad Kez, 42, took gold in the shotput and discus competitions, meaning he is now British, European and World title holder.

The taxi driver was given just 36 hours to live in 2008 after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed.

But after being placed on the European critical transplant list, his life was saved by an operation at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Speaking about competing in the sub continent, Kez said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant.

“There were 49 countries from all over the world competing, showing the world that organ donation does work.

“I was up against 16 competitors in the shotput and 10 in the discus so I’m really proud to have won.”

Kez is now set to take part in the British Transplant Games in Sheffield, which runs from today until Sunday.