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Jack Goodland at Transplant Games 

Waking up after a successful kidney transplant in 2019, Jack Goodland says he could suddenly see the world in colour again.

After feeling so ill for so long, the 26-year-old knew he'd been given another chance at life and was determined to grab it.

"Before the transplant I was quite poorly and I honestly didn't think the operation would make any difference at all," he recalled.
"My mum said "You won't know yourself after!", and as soon as I woke up and looked out, everything was bright and colourful whereas before everything was dull and grey. That's all to do with your immune system I guess but it was a great feeling."
Now Jack, who has competed and medalled at more than 20 British Transplant Games', is dreaming of playing bowls at a World Transplant Games.

Jack's remarkable journey began when he was diagnosed with chronic renal failure at just seven weeks old.
At the age of two, after 18 months of dialysis, he was placed on the organ transplant list and a suitable kidney became available after four months. Despite Jack picking up numerous infections and viruses in the months following the operation, he soon thrived, was able to start school and quickly became very keen on sport.
Such was his determination that he competed in his first British Transplant Games in Leeds in 2001 at the age of four and won two gold medals. He's since won medals at every annual event.

Jack enjoyed playing football, table tennis and county level badminton until he entered puberty and his kidney began to fail. He had already started playing bowls at the age of 11 after being introduced by a school friend.
"He invited me to his house and bowls was on the TV," Jack recalled. "I'd never heard of it before and never seen it but my friend told me all about the junior section on Monday afternoons at Yeovil Bowls Club which is just opposite the hospital I attend regularly.
"My kidney was up and down at the time and I knew I needed to find a sport which wasn't as physically challenging but was still competitive, exciting and sociable and bowls was that for me. I was also very lucky that my two coaches were Edna Bessell and Mo Monkton."
Jack Goodland after 2nd transplant
When Jack became aware that he needed another transplant during his teenage years, he became very anxious.
"It's common to need another transplant, they can last around 10/15 years depending on how you look after them - mine lasted 20. However, I had no memory of my first transplant and I was feeling unwell, I had no appetite and my energy levels were low.
"I had become very depressed; I couldn't keep up with my peers as I would tire so easily. I struggled at school due to the number of hospital admissions etc. and it took me a while to find a job that I could cope with. The team at Southmead were brilliant and I had a lot of support and my GP treated my depression so by the time the operation took place I was in a much better place mentally to cope with it."

The transplant was a success and Jack was discharged from hospital after five days.
He'd been in the bed opposite his stepfather Tony, who had become a living kidney donor for someone else after learning he wasn't a match for Jack.
"A few months after my transplant I wrote to my living altruistic donor to say thank you for the wonderful gift he had given me," said Jack.

"At the time I knew nothing about my donor other than that he was a man so I was thrilled to receive a letter back from Giorgos telling me all about himself and was surprised to find out that he is only two years older than me. We've since met a couple of times.
"Tony became a donor because he has seen people at the Transplant Games who had been through a lot and it made him think he could help someone else. We don't know where his kidney went though which is difficult for him.
"I would encourage any recipient or their family to write to the donor family to say thank you for the wonderful gift. My first transplant was from Emily, a five year old girl who passed away, and her family said that they found comfort in knowing how much her 'gifts' had helped others."

Jack has enjoyed success in bowls, representing Somerset's under 25 men's team outdoors and having trials for the Middleton Cup. He started bowling in the British Transplant Games back in 2020, achieving gold in the open two wood singles event in 2022 and winning a silver medal last year.
"Bowls is an open category, there are around 40 players in the event and you play eight end round robin games," Jack said.
"Last year I met David Bolt who presented the trophy in Leeds which was a great moment.
"My first British Transplant Games when I was four, consisted of a 25m run and throwing exercises. Over the years I have done lots of different sports including ten pin bowling. You represent your hospital, so for me that's Bristol Southmead.
"In the two World Games I have taken part in table tennis and badminton. I was selected to play bowls in the last one but I couldn't attend due to the finances: there is no funding sadly.
"The dream is to play bowls at the World Games. What I love about the competition as a whole is that it feels like a family; although I'm competitive and I still want to win, I just love being part of it all."

Jack, a community support worker for dementia services, says that the big appeal of bowls is the social aspect.
"It's just brilliant; some of my friends say "Why do you play an old man's sport?", but it's really not - and seeing youngsters playing on the TV really inspires me.
"I play anything up to four times a week and I love it. My mum Maggie and stepdad Tony now play too. They've watched me for so long and they wanted a sport where they could play together.
"I'm also a level one coach. I just really wanted to help and support people. In my life I have had so much help with my myself, I feel like I want to give something back."

Sian Honnor.

We'd love to know what bowls means to you, get in touch at info@eiba.co.uk

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June 2024

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