A champion in four different sports – Birmingham Children’s Hospital patient, Kristof, shines at World Transplant Games
A teenager from Kingswinford who was given the ‘Gift of Life’ through organ donation has returned home from the World Transplant Games with four gold medals.
Kristof Polgar travelled to Perth, Australia, last month and proudly flew the flag for Great Britain at the 24th global event. He returned a world champion taking titles in four events in his age group – tennis, badminton, squash and table tennis - with his performance earning him the prestigious ‘Best Overall Junior Athlete prize.
The fifteen-year-old also bagged a bronze in the men’s doubles table tennis event after standing in as a late replacement.
Kristof, who attends the Summerhill School, Kingswinford, underwent a life-saving liver transplant operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s world-renowned specialist unit when aged three after being diagnosed with the rare condition, Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis (PFIC).
Ahead of the procedure he was unable to walk, eat or drink but, since being given the ‘Gift of Life’ he has never looked back and has excelled – particularly in racquet sports.
He’s been a regular competitor at the British Transplant Games representing the Children’s Hospital. To date, he’s got a haul of more than 20 medals and is looking to the next event taking place in Coventry in July (27 – 30 July).
Kristof, who is hoping to have a career in sports psychology, was joined by his mum and dad, Erika and Csaba, as well as sister, Doroti, in Western Australia – a trip made possible thanks to the generosity of supporters who backed their fundraising efforts. He joined more than 1,500 competitors from 45 countries at the games.
He said: “It was a long trip but it was great when we got there. I played against people from lots of countries, including France, South Africa and Australia across two or three rounds. It was tough but brilliant to come back with four golds in the end.”
The event, which ran from 15 – 21 April, was Kristof’s second ‘worlds’ after he competed a little closer to home in Newcastle previously.
All of the family are passionate advocates for organ donation and have helped spread the message about its benefits across the media, including when they told the story of how they’d met and struck up a close band with Angie Land, the mother of Kristof’s donor, Justin.
Proud Mum, Erika, said: “It was such an inspiring event. Like the British Transplant Games, you just look around and see the amazing difference that transplantation makes. All possible because of organ donation.
“We are forever grateful to Angie and Justin, as well as to everyone at Birmingham Children’s Hospital who continue to care for Kristof. They do amazing things and it’s not just the doctors – there are so many people involved including the physiotherapists, dietitians and much more.
“The more people see stories like Kristof’s, the more they can become aware of the difference their decision to be an organ donor can make. It’s given my son a second chance in life but there are still so many people and families that don’t get that. If more sign up and share their thoughts with their loved ones, the greater chance that more can get the ‘Gift of Life’.”
It’s estimated that more than 7,000 people are currently on a transplant waiting list in the UK. To find out more about registering a decision about organ donation and sharing your wishes with loved ones visit the NHS Organ Donation website: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/