By Dr Stuart Deoraj, ST3 Renal Registrar, GSTT
For many people with kidney failure, transplantation results in a better outcome than the significant burden of long-term dialysis. But there are challenges to transplantation. Careful monitoring and management of long-term medications, repeated blood tests and close interaction with healthcare professionals are no small undertaking. Understandably, life can get derailed.
Young Adult Transplant Football
A few years ago, I was involved in the Young Adult Transplant Football Team in Oxford. On the day of the Big Game, a group of young people who had had transplants were out there on the field, getting to know each other, swapping stories, sharing food and playing a match of football with their peers.
For me, I was seeing people who up until that point were ‘patients’, and it was such an important reminder to me that when they leave the clinic room, they have a whole separate, unique life outside their kidney care. It was easily one of the most wonderful experiences I have had in my medical career and is likely one of the biggest drivers for me entering Nephrology as a speciality with an interest in Young Adult Transplantation.
Physical exercise & social interaction
So we would like to bring the benefits of Young Adult Transplant Football to Guy’s and St Thomas’. There are several potential benefits. Putting aside the known advantages of physical exercise, social interaction and involvement help with feelings of isolation, particularly when meeting people who have had similar life experiences. Additionally, it helps to foster an environment where the clinical staff and the patients get to meet and interact outside the consultation and hospital.
Currently, my team and I are in the process of generating recruitment. Before long, we hope to be out on the field, with 30 minute five-a-side games plus pizza and drinks.
Recruitment will involve a meet-and-greet day, a baseline fitness test and outfitting for uniforms. The games will be inclusive for both men and women with a catchment age between 18-30. A pitch and referee will be available, along with paramedic support.
Of course, with the COVID pandemic, safety is paramount. Any pre-game meet-ups will be in clinic, with appropriate isolation and protective gear. Players and anyone attending will be swabbed within 48 hours of the game and expected to shield, and the side-lines will be appropriately social distanced. In the beginning, small practice pitches will be used with three-a-side practice games to ensure we do not go above the required six person meet-ups. We will of course adapt to meet the changing circumstances of the pandemic.
The bottom line is that the group of young people who have had transplants are diverse, amazing people who have had unique experiences and have lives outside the medical world. What troubles me is the idea that this life can sometimes be isolating and highly sheltered. I want to bring something different into that experience.
Anyone interested in joining, please get in touch with the transplant team, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to seeing you.