Nathan wins golfing gold after lifesaving transplant

August 29 2018
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A MAN who received lifesaving cancer treatment has gone on to win a gold medal at the British Transplant Games.

Nathan Rogers, from Emersons Green, was given a stem cell transplant after he was diagnosed with leukaemia.

Now, just two years later, the 45-year-old has taken gold in the scratch golf event at the prestigious games, which took place in Birmingham from August 2-5.

The British Transplant Games is an annual event in which people who have received lifesaving organ or stem cell transplants take part in a series of Olympic-style events. 

The games demonstrate the benefits of transplantation whilst increasing awareness of the need for more people to join the Anthony Nolan register and the NHS organ donation register, along with discussing their wishes with their families. 

It has recently been announced that the government in England intends to change the law on consent for organ donation. This will take some time and will not apply to stem cell donation, so people are still needed to join the registers.

In March 2016, Nathan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells. 

Nathan was told that he’d need to have a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.

Fortunately, Anthony Nolan was able to find a match for Nathan – a donor from Germany.

In August 2016, Nathan had a stem cell transplant and was cured of his leukaemia.

Nathan said: "I can't believe it was two years ago, where I am now and where I was then seems like night and day."

Representing Team Antony Nolan, Nathan competed against almost eighty other transplant recipients from teams from all over the UK and won the medal along with the Seaun Orpen Cup. 

Nathan, a member of the Kendleshire Golf Club where he regularly plays, said: "Being part of Team Anthony Nolan is a real privilege and we were proud to wave the flag for this first-class organisation and look forward to doing so again when the games take place in Newport next year."

Nathan competed at the games for the first time in North Lanarkshire, Scotland last year; at that time, he was not quite a year post-transplant but still came away with a silver medal. 

Peer support and encouragement is a huge part of the games and is highly valued by transplant recipients, their families and the families of donors.

Nathan’s wife, Fiona, who caddied for him, said: "For me, being able to participate in the

games is reward enough after the rollercoaster ride of the past couple of years. When I

heard the announcement that Nathan had won the gold medal I was overflowing with pride

for all he has fought and overcome. None of this would have been possible without the selflessness of his donor and the phenomenal team at Bristol Haematology & Oncology Centre."

Fiona, along with Nathan, is now encouraging as many people as possible to join the donor register. She said: "Prior to Nathan being told he would need a transplant, we were not fully aware of the need for stem cell donors. The gift of life is the most precious gift of all, and even more precious when you are given a second chance." 

To find out more about Anthony Nolan, or to join the stem cell register, visit www.anthonynolan.org. To join the NHS organ donor register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk