Schoolboy wins medals at national competition after kidney transplant

Posted on Monday 15th August 2022

Cruz running at the British Transplant Games

A schoolboy won two medals at the British Transplant Games after receiving a kidney transplant at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

Cruz Brown, eight, from Southwark in South London, was born with a rare kidney condition and has been an Evelina London patient all his life.

He visited the hospital four times a week for dialysis before receiving a kidney transplant in December 2021.

Cruz won a silver medal for ball throw and a bronze medal for table tennis at the British Transplant Games as part of the Evelina London Children’s Hospital team.

His mother Debbie said: “The Transplant Games were fantastic. Cruz was so excited to go and was counting down the days until the competition. The atmosphere was amazing. There were so many spectators cheering the children.

“The kidney transplant has completely transformed Cruz’s life. The games were our first ever holiday together. Before his transplant going on holiday or even taking short breaks was difficult because Cruz needed dialysis four times a week. He is much more active now and can take part in sports without any issues. Seeing him enjoying himself, taking part in the events and winning medals was a really emotional moment for me. A year ago he was still on dialysis. It’s amazing seeing how far he has come.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Evelina London. His medical team have known Cruz since he was a baby and they are like a second family. It was lovely to spend time with them at the games and meet other families who have been on a similar journey to us. We had so much fun we’re already planning to go again next year.”

The British Transplant Games see hospital teams from across the UK compete in 25 different sports events, such as swimming, tennis, table tennis, badminton, cycling and athletics. 

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, pharmacy operations manager, plus 11 volunteers.

Together the Evelina VIPs brought home 38 medals –11 Gold, 15 Silver and 12 Bronze – and won the Best Children’s Kidney Team. 

Grainne Walsh said: “It was fantastic to see Cruz taking part in the British Transplant Games. We’ve all known Cruz since he was very little and we’re delighted with how well he is doing.

“Having a child with a kidney transplant can be a very isolating experience. The games are a great opportunity for families to come together, develop a support network and celebrate the achievements of their children, who were previously very unwell.

“Fitness is very important following transplantation and we have a team at the games every year. This year was the first British Transplant Games since the pandemic and it was lovely to see so many of our patients and their families join us.” 

The Evelina London kidney transplant service is the country’s first established children’s kidney programme, pioneering children’s transplantation in 1968.

The British Transplant games are held year and have been going for more than 40 years. More than 900 athletes took in this year’s event, which was held in Leeds from 27- 31July.

In 2018, Cruz met the Duchess of Cambridge at a special event at Evelina London to launch celebrations for the hospital’s 150th birthday. Cruz was featured on a special Evelina London 150th anniversary banner and helped The Duchess to unveil it.

The Evelina VIPs are supported by Evelina London Children’s Charity. Register your decision about organ donation.