Tennis-mad teenager Flora King says she will draw inspiration from her hero Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory as she gears up to compete in her first World Transplant Games next week.
Granborough girl Flora, 15, will travel to Durban in South Africa on Friday where she will compete in the Games after being selected as one of just two Great Ormond Street transplant recipients to compete at international level. The sporty teenager had a kidney transplant from her father when she was 12 after being diagnosed with kidney failure. The former county hockey player began to feel ill in 2009, experiencing extreme fatigue and sickness, and a biopsy of her kidneys showed they were working only at around a 20% rate of efficiency.
Three years later, Flora has made a remarkable recovery and is back enjoying competitive sports. She picked up three gold medals in last year’s National Transplant Games and will now focus on her favourite sport of tennis at the World Games.
Flora says she is feeling nervous but excited to reach the next level of her sport after watching her British tennis idol Andy Murray smash his way to his first Wimbledon title earlier this month.
“I love the way Andy Murray has always been so focused on what he wants to achieve, and even after setbacks he’s come back fighting and even more determined,” Flora said.
“I’ve been practising my tennis three times a week to prepare for the Games, and having someone like Andy to look up to has made every training session count more.”
Flora’s parents Christine and David will accompany her on the trip to South Africa, which will mark the first time Flora has competed in the World Transplant Games.
Mum Christine said: “We are so proud of the way Flora has coped with everything she has had to deal with over the past four years. Her positive approach since the transplant in all the sports she plays, including tennis and hockey, as well as her academic work is an example to others. It is difficult enough being a teenager, let alone having a daily regime of anti-rejection drugs – but Flora has risen to the challenge and has even taken up rowing at St Edwards School, Oxford, where she now attends. She is always keen to fly the flag for organ donation and believes the World Games raises the profile further. She has raised the money necessary for her to go by holding cake sales, dress-up days at school and approaching local charities to sponsor her.”
In addition to the sporting challenges in store for Flora at the Games, the teenager also hopes the event will give hope to other young people who are either waiting for, or recovering from, an organ transplant.
“I’ve always been really sporty and it was difficult to know, when I became ill, whether I’d ever be able to enjoy running and jumping and being active again, after the operation,” Flora recalls. “I hope the Games will show other young people just how much is possible once you’ve had a successful transplant and are feeling better. I love the way I feel now – I’m full of energy and hoping for a gold medal.”