Support For Transplant Games Swimmer Cerys

Written by on 3rd March 2023

A Rhondda Cynon Taf swimmer has has been selected to compete at the World Transplant Games in Australia in April.  

Cerys O’Connell

Cerys O’Connell, 14, of Mountain Ash, is currently aiming to raise £6,500 to make her dream come true. A JustGiving page has been set up to help her raise funds and has the full support of Cynon Valley MP Beth Winter, Vikki Howells MS and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure, said:

“Cerys has had an amazing life story so far and she is about to embark on the next chapter thousands of miles away from home.

“She has overcome so much during the past 10 years, and the love and support of her family and friends have kept her going. That love and support is now extended to the wider community as we all wish her well as she competes at the World Transplant Games.

“During these difficult times financially, I urge anyone who is able to do so, to make a donation, no matter how big or small, to help Cerys achieve her dream. Let’s get her to Australia, flying the flag for Rhondda Cynon Taf and Wales.”

Cerys, a student at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, has been selected to represent Team GB at the World Transplant Games in Perth. She received a bone marrow transplant from her sister Megan after being diagnosed with a life-threatening condition called Aplastic Anaemia when she was just four-years-old.

Aplastic Anaemia affects the blood in the human body, where the bone marrow and stem cells do not produce enough blood cells. A decade ago Cerys started to get regular bruising on her arms and legs, and after blood tests by her GP, it was confirmed that she had the disorder.

Thankfully, her younger sister Megan, then aged three, was the perfect bone marrow match and the life-saving transplant went ahead.

Cerys O’Connell said:

“I will always be very grateful to Megan for giving me some of her bone marrow – she literally did save my life. Although I have always loved swimming, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would one day be competing in the World Transplant Games. This really will be the icing on the cake for me.”

Cerys was given just months to live when diagnosed with aplastic anaemia in April 2013 and her parents Alun and Lisa O’Connell were left heartbroken and fearing for their eldest daughter’s future.

Having been diagnosed at the Children’s Hospital for Wales, Cardiff, where she received blood products, Cerys was then transferred to the Bristol Children’s Hospital where she underwent chemotherapy, with the transplant carried out on June 21, 2013.

Cerys spent five weeks recovering in hospital isolation and spent her fifth birthday on the hospital ward until she was well enough to go home with her family.

Cerys became a talented young swimmer and joined the Nexus Valleys Swimming Club. In 2019 she won two Gold Medals and one Bronze medal at the Westfield Health British Transplant Games, held in Newport, and three Gold medals and one Silver medal for Wales at the British Transplant Games held in Leeds in 2022.

She is now set to compete at the 24th World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia, in April and a JustGiving page has been set up to help fund her costs.

World Transplant Games 2024 

The week-long World Transplant Games are open to those people who have received heart, lung, liver, kidney pancreas, stem cells and bone marrow transplants.

If you are able to support Cerys O’Connell, please visit the JustGiving page her family has set up.

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