“My Dad gave me a second chance at life. I think about how to make him proud all the time,” says Kyle Foster from Cwmbran who is gearing up to take part in his first ever Westfield Health British Transplant Games this summer.
In 2006, Mr Foster discovered he had a kidney problem when he was undergoing medical checks in a bid to join the Army:“I tried to get into the Army when I was about 16 but when I had my medical, they found blood and protein in my urine sample. They sent me to see a specialist and I was having six monthly check ups.
“I had a biopsy when I was 19 as my kidney had been deteriorating over the years. I was told that I had a rare kidney disease called IgA nephropathy - also known as Berger’s disease but that I would be ok until I was much older and into my sixties.”
But that was not the case. Just 16 months later, he was rushed to hospital and a line was put in his chest to start kidney dialysis:
“It was one of the scariest times of my life. I started having dialysis three times a week for four hours a day. It was horrible and very draining. I constantly felt tired and sluggish.”
Meanwhile, his family rallied around and had tests to see if they were a match for the kidney:
“My dad, my Uncle Steve and Auntie Margaret all came back as compatible. My Dad was chosen as the best match but he had to lose three stone before the operation. He hit his target weight eight months later!”
He is now 30 years old and is again working in construction:
“When I was receiving dialysis, I was just stuck in a chair. Ever since the transplant, my life has changed so much. I’ve done 10k runs and a half marathon and I’ve even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.”
His next challenge is to compete as part of the Wales team in the Westfield Health British Transplant Games which come to Newport from the 25-28 July. He hopes to take part in archery, shot put, ball throw and football:
“I am always trying to find ways to show my Dad how grateful I am. Part of that means making sure I am fit and healthy. It’s really important as a transplant recipient that I am physically active. A lot of people think that once you have a transplant, you should wrap yourself up in cotton wool but that is not the case once your doctor says you can be active again. Taking part in the British Transplant Games means I have a huge incentive to get into training and get fit!
“It’s also good to be around people that have been in the same situation. When I had my transplant, I thought I was the only person my age going through something like that.”
According to Kidney Care UK, 64,000 people in the UK are being treated for kidney failure; without dialysis or a transplant, it is fatal.