The World Transplant Games 2017 are currently underway in Málaga, with competitors travelling from all over the world to participate.
The World Transplant Games (WTG) are an opportunity for recipents of donor transplants to compete in such sports as squash, badminton, bowls, petanque, swimming and football. It is a testament to the success of transplant surgery and the ability of patients to go on to lead healthy lives. This year, 2017, the event organisers expect the total number of entrants to exceed 2500 and to come from 55 countries.
Of course every single one of the athletes are special and a testament to the skill and hard work of everyone involved in the transplant process, from the surgeon and support staff to the donor and recipient. But today we’d like to talk to you about one of those very special athletes in particular, 43-year-old Nick Whitehurst.
We first became aware of Nick, his struggles and his achievements, during a conversation with our dear friend Marilyn Brindley. Marilyn and her husband John have been friends of ours for a number of years. When Marilyn told us about her nephew Nick, we knew that we had to share.
Nottingham-born Nick now lives in Lincolnshire, with his wife Mari-Carmen and their two children. He was still going to the gym and coaching his son’s football team until just four weeks before falling ill whilst on holiday in the summer of 2015. The mystery illness quickly led to acute liver failure, and his loved ones prepared for the worst. However, in the autumn, Nick had a life saving liver transplant. The lady whose liver gave Nick a second chance was on the organ donation register so, needless to say, since then the family has supported the cause as much as they can, raising awareness wherever possible.
Since the operation Nick’s health has improved immensely, enabling him to regain his active lifestyle. From the age of 17 and throughout his university years, Nick played semi-professional football (soccer, for our American readers). Nick was always sporty… becoming the Under-12s County and East Midlands Squash Champion and going on to play cricket and rugby at county level. This of course all stopped when he became seriously ill – so to see him return to his sporting activities is wonderful for all that know him and know what he’s been through.
Nick’s achievements at WTG Málaga.
On Tuesday June 27, Nick won a gold medal for squash in the 40-49 age group. It couldn’t have come at a better time, because his Mum was celebrating her 70th birthday the same day. It was a particularly emotional day for her, according to Marilyn. Nick nabbed the gold, beating John Tibbutt (also UK) into second place and forcing both Albert Nagy (Hungary) and Anail Balmakund (South Africa) into joint third.
Nick also took part in the Badminton Doubles on Saturday July 1, the last day of the Games. Despite it being a sport he has never played (Squash of course, being his game), he and his partner, Chris Cliffe reached the semi-finals, and Nick came home with bronze medal to add to his tally. It’s back to reality for Nick for a while, but he‘ll soon be preparing for the British Transplant Games which take place next month in North Lanarkshire. Last year (2016), at the Games in Liverpool, Nick took gold for Squash in the 40-49 category, something he never thought to achieve just ten months after his transplant. We’ll all be hoping he repeats his success this year, but as Nick himself said then, it really is about the taking part.
Spain Buddy would like to congratulate Nick on his performance at WTG Málaga and wish him and his family all the very best for the future.
To find out more about WTG – click HERE