LIAM Ward will make his cricketing debut for the England and Wales Transplant XI at Rockhampton on Sunday … just over a year after receiving a new kidney.
The 30-year-old, from Kingsway in Gloucester, has made a strong recovery from life-changing surgery at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.
And he admits to feeling “excited and a little nervous” as he prepares for his Transplant XI debut and first game in some four years.
Liam said: “It’s been so long that I hope I can remember to hold the bat properly!”
He began his cricketing career in the youth sides at the then Gloucester City Winget club, now known as Gloucester, before moving to Kingsholm where he played regularly as a middle-order batter until 2019.
Liam was first diagnosed with kidney issues 10 years ago when he underwent medical tests while trying to join the Army.
He went on the transplant list in 2020 before receiving his new kidney in May last year.
Liam, who paid tribute to fiancé Katie for all her support, added: “I never realised how unwell I was until I had the transplant. I didn’t know any different for all those years so it’s unbelievable to compare how well I feel now.
“I was very lucky with my recovery – I was in hospital only five days – and things afterwards went as well as they possibly could. I now go the gym five days a week and Katie and I do a lot of walking together.”
While convalescing, Liam set himself a target of one day taking part in the Transplant Games – “I was looking at all the different sports, wondering what I might be able to do!” – before reading a Gloucestershire Live article about raising awareness about organ donation and the transplant cricket team.
Contact was quickly made and Liam, an insurance underwriter with Zurich, was fast-tracked into the team which will face a NHS Blood & Transplant XI in a Twenty20 clash at Rockhampton (11am).
The team also includes Robin Watson, of Blockley, who received a kidney in 2011.
Captain Adam Phillips said: “We are all celebrating our second innings in life.
“This match is a reminder of the generosity of our donors, be they family, friends or complete strangers, who offer us a new chance by giving us the greatest gift – the gift of life.”