Heart transplant Leeds teenager tackling rugby training

PIC: James Hardisty
PIC: James Hardisty
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A LEEDS schoolboy who underwent a heart transplant just four months ago has already started training to achieve his goal of getting back on the rugby field.

The father of 14-year-old keen rugby league player Connor Laws has told of his family’s joy after his son’s remarkable recovery following the transplant.

Date: 4th September 2017.
Picture James Hardisty.
Today is the start of Organ Donation Week and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is urging people to sign the Organ Donation Register as it relaunches its Be A Hero campaign, with a 24-hour Be A Hero Yorkshire to 50k cycling challenge in Victoria Gardens in Leeds city centre. Pictured (2nd Left) Team GB's Katy Marchant, and (right) British Cycling's Head Sprint Coach Justin Grace,  with volunteers taking part in the challenge.

Date: 4th September 2017. Picture James Hardisty. Today is the start of Organ Donation Week and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is urging people to sign the Organ Donation Register as it relaunches its Be A Hero campaign, with a 24-hour Be A Hero Yorkshire to 50k cycling challenge in Victoria Gardens in Leeds city centre. Pictured (2nd Left) Team GB's Katy Marchant, and (right) British Cycling's Head Sprint Coach Justin Grace, with volunteers taking part in the challenge.

Connor, from Osmondthorpe, has suffered asthma for most of his life but otherwise always seemed fit and healthy until he fell ill earlier this year.

Tests carried out after he was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary with stomach pains and sickness showed he had a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy.

He underwent a heart transplant at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital in May and, after a speedy recovery, he was allowed home six weeks later.

Now East Leeds ARLFC junior team player Connor has started light training, including running and passing practice, and hopes to be back playing rugby in around six-months.

A fundraising event for Connor held at the club in May raised around £5,000 and additional donations from the RFL Benevolent Fund among others mean the total amount now stands at just under £8,000.

That money will be used to send Connor on a rugby watching holiday to Australia, once he is well enough to make the journey.

A homecoming celebration for Connor and fun day event was held at the club on Saturday to thank members for their support and to raise funds for the club.

Connor’s father Jevan, 37, of Castleford, said his son was only on the organ donor register for 27 days before he underwent the transplant at Newcastle’s Freeman’s Hospital.

Mr Laws, said: “Connor wants to play rugby again, he cant wait to get stuck in.

“His strength and he way he has dealt with everything is unbelievable. We are so proud of him. People are calling him the East Leeds Warrior.”

Mr Laws said Connor, a student at Corpus Christ Catholic College in Halton Moor, Leeds, is looking forward to going back to school this week.

Mr Laws said his family is continuing to back a campaign for a change in the law surrounding organ donation in England in order to increase the number of transplants.

In July, the First Secretary of State, Damian Green, said the Department of Health is looking at similar reforms in Scotland and Wales “to see if those can give rise” to improvements.

Under existing rules, it is up to individuals in England to take the active step of registering as an organ donor.

However, in Wales there is a system of “deemed consent” which requires someone to opt out if they do not want to donate their organs.

Scotland is planning to introduce a similar system. Mr Green was responding to a question from the Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis, who is among those campaigning for England to follow suit.

NHS Blood and Transplant said that last year, 22 adults and 10 children died on the waiting list for a heart transplant or within one year of being removed from the list.

It added that some people were removed from the list because they were too unwell to cope with the surgery.

Overall 470 people waiting for new organs died while on the transplant waiting list, including 14 children aged 18 or under, or within one year of removal. The organisation said that during Organ Donation Week, which runs until Sunday September 10, people should strike up a conversation with their loved ones to let them know whether they would like to be a donor.

IT is quick and easy to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Simply visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call the NHS Blood and Transplant 24-hour-a-day donor line on 0300 123 23 23.

Letting your family know your organ donation decision will make it much easier for them to support what you want.

Anyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register, age and medical conditions are not necessarily a barrier to donation.

The YEP would like to hear from any readers who have been inspired by the Be a Hero campaign to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

We would also like to hear from people who are on the organ donor waiting list.

Please e mail: mark.lavery@ypn.co.uk

Ian Beaumont of KPMG

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