A 14-year-old swimmer from Newcastle, who underwent a heart transplant needs to raise £12,000 to ensure he can compete in Argentina this summer.
Sam Griffiths from Silverdale has won gold medals and broken world records since undergoing the transplant when he was eight years old.
He first underwent open heart surgery aged just two days old, and went on to survive five more major operations and cardiac arrests. His family were advised they might have to say goodbye to him on more than one occasion.
Sam comes from a family of swimmers, yet he was simply too ill to join in before his transplant.
His mother Nicola said: “After two minutes in the pool he’d have to get back out and go on oxygen because he was in a wheelchair and on oxygen because the oxygen in his blood was too low because his heart was that deformed.
“All his siblings swam, I swam, his dad swam, we all competed, his siblings were very good in the water, but he had to watch from the side because he couldn’t get in because he was so poorly.”
However Sam’s swimming career went from strength to strength after his transplant and this will be the second time he has represented GB in the World Transplant Games. In 2013 he won four gold medals and one silver in the event in South Africa, where he also smashed two world records.
Sam said: ”I feel honoured to have that opportunity to do something that big that no-one could regularly do.”
But Nicola says they still has to be careful protecting his health – “His heart now is basically like our hearts, it’s absolutely fine. He takes a lot of medication, we have to make sure he doesn’t get any infections because he’s got a lowered immune system and that will always be the case. Transplant is just a good way of getting quality of life.”
Now Sam’s friends, family and supporters are working hard to ensure they raise the £12,000 necessary to get him to Argentina.
A concert featuring The Overtones and Jake Shakeshaft from The Voice will be held at Madeley High School this Saturday.
Anyone wanting to make a donation should visit https://www.justgiving.com/nicola-griffiths9/