Well, I promised that you’d be meeting some inspirational people in this Blog – and here’s the first of them, a swimming champion who underwent open heart surgery when he was just two days old.
Let me just say – this story has left me feeling very humbled, and really puts things in perspective.
Sam Griffiths, now aged 14, went on to have five more major operations. On several occasions doctors told his family they might have to say goodbye to him.
A heart transplant at the age of eight was the turning point, and since then – through a mixture of talent and sheer determination – he was picked to represent Great Britain in the World Transplant Games in South Africa in 2013. He won four gold medals and one silver in South Africa in 2013, and he also smashed two world records.
He’s been selected to represent GB a second time in this summer’s event in Argentina – and a campaign is now underway to raise £12,000 to get him there.
Sam, who comes from Silverdale, near Newcastle-under-Lyme in North Staffordshire, told me; “I feel honoured to have that opportunity to do something that big that no-one could regularly do.”
Belonging to a family of swimmers, he was simply too ill to join in before his transplant.
His mum 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.”
She stressed that, even after the surgery that saved his life, they still have to be careful; “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.”
“I think my story proves that no matter what odds may be stacked against you and however many times you want to give up you have to be brave and try! Anything is possible!” Sam Griffiths, on his Just Giving page
If you want to make a donation and help Sam on his way then go to https://www.justgiving.com/nicola-griffiths9/
Listen to my interview with Nicola Griffiths on Signal http://www.signal1.co.uk/news/local/staffs-teen-hopes-to-represent-gb-at-world-transplant-games/