Transplant games celebrate gift of life

AT the start of 2012 Jack Campbell, seven, needed to be carried to school and only three months ago he had open-heart surgery. 

Yesterday he won a silver medal in the three-kilometre fun run at the  Australian Transplant Games in Newcastle.

‘‘This is one of the proudest moments as a parent,’’ Jack’s mother Melissa Campbell said.  

‘‘To be able to see him compete is a miracle, a massive celebration of life.’’

The Campbell family was among a big crowd that gathered on the Newcastle Foreshore for the 13th games, an event held every two years to show the success of organ transplantation and to improve organ donation rates in Australia.

At birth, Jack was diagnosed with extreme narrowing of the aortic valve. He was given only a 12.5 per cent chance of surviving open-heart surgery to implant the new valve and up to 50per cent chance of suffering permanent brain damage.

The Campbells don’t know the valve donor, although doctors told them it was likely to have come from a newborn.

Chief executive officer Chris Thomas said the games were trying to increase donation rates to 75 per cent of  potential donors.

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