A young North-east liver transplant survivor has been inspired by Olympic fever to reach his own sporting dreams.
Aberdeen-local, Joe Noble (9) from Nigg Way, is currently in training for the British Transplant Games, held in Medway, South-east England, from 23 to 26 August. He will compete in three swimming events – the front crawl, breaststroke and back crawl – for the King’s College Hospital, London, where he underwent his transplant in 2005.
Inspired by the achievements of Olympic greats, Joe has been training in Robert Gordon University’s £11 million state-of-the-art sporting facility, RGU: SPORT to which he has been granted free access.
Joe, who attends Kaimhill Primary, underwent a liver transplant at the age of 18 months, having developed acute liver failure after a family holiday abroad. His condition deteriorated so rapidly prior to surgery that he was given priority over the whole of Europe to be first on the transplant list at King’s.
On 28 November 2005, Joe went through a 12-hour auxiliary transplant in which the donor liver was joined onto the healthiest part of his own. This was an extremely new procedure at the time and Joe was only the fifth child in the world to have gone through it.
Seven years on, Joe is strong and healthy. Having received an email about the transplant games from King’s in May this year, he was very enthusiastic to take part as a member of the ‘King’s Children’ team - all of whom have undergone liver transplants at the hospital.
The Games, which are one of the largest multi-sport events in the UK, are organised on behalf of Transplant Sport UK (TSUK) and are staged annually in a different UK city.
Debbie Noble, Joe’s mother, commented: “To say that Joe is excited about the Games is an understatement! Aside from the competition itself, for him to meet other children and adults who have undergone a transplant will be fantastic. It will be a chance for him to realise that he is not the only one with a large scar crossing his tummy, or the only one to go through this.”
Joe is training by swimming with his family at the RGU: SPORT pool over the summer holidays, and building up his strength walking his dog Mika.
Speaking in support of Joe’s Transplant Games campaign, London 2012 Olympian and RGU: SPORT Scholar, Hannah Miley, said: “Joe’s drive is an inspiration to us all. He has the passion and spirit of a dedicated athlete, and his achievements are testament that we can all overcome any challenges if we work hard enough. I wish him all the best for the Games.”
Speaking in response to Hannah’s support, Debbie replied: “It’s fantastic to have the support of Hannah and the sporting community. It’s been great for Joe to train in the same pool as her and he has been inspired to do the best he can.
“We have a lot of people and organisations to thank for making it possible for Joe to participate in the Games, including the staff of King’s College hospital, the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital liver team and the Childrens Liver Disease Foundation to name a few.
“The biggest thanks, though, has to go to the parents who made the decision to give their teenage daughter's liver to save my son’s life. It is the most humbling experience and no words can ever express the gratitude and pedestal I have put these strangers on.”
Donations of a sports bag for Joe to take to the Transplant Games are welcome. Similarly, the family would gladly receive any company badges that Joe can add to his sports shirt to show the support of the Aberdeen community and boost his confidence at the Games. Any such donations can be delivered to the reception of RGU: SPORT on RGU’s Garthdee Campus, AB10 7GE.
At the Games, Joe achieved fourth place in the backcrawl and took home bronze alongside his brothers and team mates in the Kings Children football team.
Debbie commented: "There was a wide variety of emotions at the Games and all shared the pure determination to see so many transplant recipients take part. It was just brilliant!"
Notes to Editors
- Information about the Westfield Health British Transplant Games can be found at http://london2012.medway.gov.uk/majorsportingevents/britishtransplantgames2012.aspx
Communications Officer | Faculty of Health and Social Care
Robert Gordon University
Tel: 01224 262389