As her son battled to recover from a heart transplant, Kerry Sporle could never have imagined that a year later he would be competing in a national sporting event.
This week Ben Sporle, 14, from Calne, will take part in the British Transplant Games in Bolton, cheered on by his family.
Mrs Sporle said: “We have been through a very difficult time and it was hard when we didn’t really know what was wrong with him. Once Ben was diagnosed as needing a heart transplant it was almost easier.
“We were very lucky as he only had to wait a few weeks for a donor heart to become available. Others wait months, years and for some, one doesn’t come in time.
“But after the operation Ben was in a bad way as his new heart didn’t work properly at first. After a week though he turned a corner and started to make a good recovery.”
He will compete at ball throw, long jump, running and the obstacle race against other children who have undergone transplants.
His parents Kerry and Jason Sporle, who are divorced, first became worried about the health of their son in August 2012.
Ben, who has severe learning difficulties, started to have worrying symptoms of lethargy, sickness and a grey complexion.
After x-rays at Great Western Hospital, Swindon, it was found Ben had an extremely enlarged heart. The next day, he was taken to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children where he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy.
Despite coping on medication and returning to special school in Bath in January 2013, Ben’s condition deteriorated and he was readmitted. It was then his family was informed he would need a heart transplant and he was put on the waiting list.
Ben remained at the children’s hospital in Bristol until the family received a phone call in the spring to say a heart donor was available.
Ben was immediately transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where the transplant took place. Ben, who went to Devizes Opportunity Centre when he was a toddler and then on to a special unit at Frogwell Primary, Chippenham, is excited at taking part in the games.
Mrs Sporle, who works at St Nicholas Special School, Chippenham, said: “He knows he is going to be doing something special. The event will be quite emotional as there will be families there whose loved ones have been donors.
“Since his transplant, Ben has contacted the donor’s family through Great Ormond Street Hospital and thanked them for this special gift. We know the transplant isn’t a cure but more an extension of Ben’s life.”
She thanked hospital staff for their support and urged people to consider signing up to allow their organs to be donated.
William Booth, clinical nurse manager on the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, where Ben was treated, said: “He has made a remarkable recovery thanks to this precious gift of life from the donor family.”