Imagine the joy of Paul Wagnell and his family when the younger daughter of our Midlands and East Anglia sales manager won no less than five medals at the World Transplant Games in June. Swimming for the UK in Göteborg in the 15-17 age group, 15 year old Rebekah took gold in both the medley relay and the breast stroke, winning the latter in a new Games record of 43.57 seconds – over two seconds inside her previous best time!
Rebekah added to her haul with silver in freestyle, backstroke and butterfly – a fantastic achievement for a girl who would not be alive without the kidney Paul gave her exactly five years ago that week.
Diagnosed with chronic renal failure at birth, she survived on a strict diet together with a cocktail of medication, but Paul and his wife Tina knew her one kidney would eventually fail and that she would need a transplant.
Coming from her father, that gift of life could not be more special – but despite setbacks, one great thing motivating her recovery was the chance to compete at the annual British Transplant Games, which she did the next year in 2007. Since then the chance to compete at the highest level was always on her radar, and as a member of Bletchley & District Swimming Club, Rebekah continued training hard for this year’s World Games in Sweden.
“It’s wonderful for all of us, to be together to see her win like that, and also very uplifting for her after all she’s been through and the schooling she’s missed,” says Paul. “Now she’ll be wanting to continue her success at the British Games in Belfast in August and then compete again on the world stage in South Africa in 2013. We’d better start saving up now!”