Miracle Mia becomes youngest competitor at British Transplant Games

Posted on Tuesday 27th August 2019
Mia on a running track holding her mum's hand during the British Transplant Games.

Mia, holding her mother's hand, as she takes part in the British Transplant Games

A three-year-old girl has celebrated her first anniversary of receiving a new kidney at Evelina London by becoming the youngest competitor at the British Transplant Games.

Mia Mifsud has become the youngest child to compete at the British Transplant Games as part of the Evelina London team. Mia, who has only learned to walk in July travelled to Wales with her family to take part in the event.

Mia's mother, Danielle, who is from Gibralta, said: “Attending the British Transplant Games was an incredible experience. It’s the first holiday we have taken as a family since Mia was born. It was amazing connecting with other families who have been on a similar journey to us. We all got a lot out of it including Mia’s sister, River, who was able to participate in the events for siblings.

Mia crossing the finishing line at the British Transplant Games“Watching Mia take part in the 25m dash race and cross the finish line was a very special moment for us. It really showed how far she has come and what a determined little girl she is. We were completely blown away as she only started walking three weeks before. Everyone was cheering her on. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”

Mia had both her kidneys removed when she was three months old due to a rare genetic condition called autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). The condition caused both her kidneys to grow to 15cm, bigger than the size of an adult kidney, which resulted in life-threatening complications, including a mini stroke and severe breathing and digestive problems.

Danielle said: “On our third day in hospital after Mia was born the doctor noticed that her stomach was hard and he suspected that something was wrong. Tests showed cysts on her kidneys but at that stage the doctors were not able to give us a diagnosis.

Mia aged two months just before her second kidney was removed.“The hospital rang Evelina London Children’s Hospital for advice and the following day we took the first aeroplane out of Gibraltar to London. Thankfully the doctors there were able to diagnose Mia with ARPKD. We were completely shocked when we found out that her kidneys were bigger than an adults. They were causing Mia serious problems which meant the first weeks of her life were spent in and out of the paediatric intensive care unit.”

In August 2018 after spending two years on dialysis – an artificial way of removing toxins from the blood which the kidneys would usually flush out – her father, Dion, donated one of his kidneys to her. The surgery, which took place at Guy's Hospital, was successful but the medication to stop Mia’s body from rejecting the new kidney meant her immune system was suppressed, resulting in her developing sepsis five times between January and June this year.

Danielle, 34, said: “Mia has been through so much since the transplant. We feared her life was in serious danger after she repeatedly developed sepsis but she has continued to pull through. She really is a fighter.

“We are extremely thankful to Evelina London for the fantastic care Mia has received. Everyone has been really invested in making sure she got the treatment she needed – we owe Mia’s life to them.

“The nurses in the renal team have really gone out of their way to look after us and make sure we’re all comfortable, from collecting Mia’s medication when I’ve not been able to, helping find us suitable accommodation in London and answering my calls and texts, even late at night. Nothing is ever too much. I really couldn’t have asked for better care.

“I haven’t been able to return to Gibraltar since we arrived in London but I’m hopeful we will be able to return before the end of the year. Our main priority is making sure Mia is well and healthy.”

The British Transplant Games are held every year and see hospital teams from across the UK compete in 25 different sports events, such as swimming, tennis, table tennis, badminton, cycling and athletics.  Mia took part in a number of events, including the under-fives 25m dash race. 

Evelina London’s Transplant Games team, the Evelina VIPs, is made up of patients who have received care at the children’s hospital following a kidney transplant. They are supported by team managers Grainne Walsh, transplant advanced nurse practitioner, Cathy Gill, senior play specialist and Pat Hayes, dispensary manager, plus 11 volunteers.

Grainne Walsh said: “We are delighted Mia is doing so well and was able to take part in the British Transplant Games. Having a child who has undergone a transplant can be a very isolating and lonely experience, so the games are a great opportunity for our patients and their families to come together and create a network of support.

Mia hugging her dad after crossing the finishing line at the Briitsh Transplant Games.

“The games really highlight the positive impact kidney transplants have on our patients and their families’ lives. It’s always lovely to see our patients enjoying themselves, especially children who were previously very unwell. We enter a team every year but this year was extra special as Evelina London is celebrating 150 years of saving lives and improving health.”

Together the Evelina VIPs brought home 58 medals – including 15 Gold, 25 Silver and 18 Bronze – and won the Best Children’s Kidney Team. The British Transplant Games 2019 event was held in Newport from 25-28 July.

Our Evelina 150 Stories

Mia, age 3, standing outside in a white dress on a sunny day.Mia's journey is part of a series of Evelina 150 Stories that we are sharing in celebration of our special 150th anniversary year. Throughout 2019, we are highlighting some of our amazing patients and also encouraging them to blog about their experiences.

150 years ago, Evelina London was born out of love, when Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild founded the hospital in memory of his wife, Evelina. Since 1869, we've been saving lives, improving health and inspiring better futures.