Bethnal Green athlete overcomes kidney failure and breast cancer to win bronze at British Transplant Games

Barts Health team manager Conrad Ryan with victorious athlete, Francine Fernandes. Picture: Barts He

Barts Health team manager Conrad Ryan with victorious athlete, Francine Fernandes. Picture: Barts Health - Credit: Archant

An athlete from Bethnal Green who suffered kidney failure and breast cancer won a bronze medal at the British Transplant Games.

Francine Fernandes, 43, was competing for Barts Health Trust in the women’s badminton doubles.

Francine suffered from kidney failure in her 20s, losing both her kidneys before her brother donated his.

She said: “I spent a year on dialysis, during which time I had to live at home with my parents and I wasn’t able to work.

“My brother then offered to donate me his kidney. I had his kidney for 15 years and it completely transformed my life. I simply wouldn’t be here without my brother.

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“The transplant meant I could live my life fully and enjoy my 20s.”

Francine moved out of her parents’ and got a job as a deputy director as a charity, but in 2014, her brother’s kidney failed and she developed breast cancer.

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She went back on dialysis, and is now four years clear of cancer. In a year she’ll be eligible for another kidney transplant – this time, from her partner.

She said: “I can’t wait for my transplant.

“It will be my incredible partner of 23 years who will be giving me his kidney this time around. We joke that he’s my ideal match in more ways than one.”

Francine was treated at The Royal London Hospital. From 2017-2018, the hospital conducted 130 renal transplants for patients in east London and Essex.

She added: “I’m beyond grateful to the incredible team who have cared for me throughout my cancer and transplant journeys.

“I went back for dialysis the day after returning from the games. I was proudly wearing my team jacket and my bronze medal.”

More than 1,000 people competed in this year’s transplant games, which are designed to celebrate the life-changing effects of transplants. The Barts Health Trust team brought home 10 bronze, 10 silver and a gold medal from August’s competition in Birmingham.

Conrad Ryan, the Barts Health team manager, said: “I am very proud of my team. Some of the team members were new to the games this year, but they trained hard, competed well, and everyone had a really good time.

“For those that managed to come home with a medal, that was just the icing on the cake.”

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