• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Meet the transplant athlete who went from the dangers of Ukraine to life-saving treatment in Oxfordshire


Aug 22, 2022

A MAN who fled war-torn Ukraine to settle in Oxfordshire is taking part in a competition to celebrate the life-saving impact of dialysis and organ transplantation.

Maksym Shuhla, 29, from Kyiv, has been on haemodialysis for the past three years, after his kidney transplant failed immediately.

He was living in an apartment in the north east of the Ukrainian capital, when the war broke out in February and his neighbourhood was shelled.

He spent two weeks living in a basement with this wife and seven-year-old daughter, until they could finally travel to the UK in April and settled with a host family in Abingdon.

Oxford Mail: Maksym Shuhla with his family in LondonMaksym Shuhla with his family in London

Mr Shuhla, who worked as a video editor on a TV news channel in Ukraine for eight years, was then included on the UK transplant list and continued to have dialysis at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

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This week, he is taking part in the European Transplant and Dialysis Games, a multi-sport competition among more than 400 transplant recipients and dialysis patients from over 25 countries across Europe, taking place in different venues around the county.

The event is similar to the Paralympics Games or Invictus Games and it represents an opportunity to promote the benefits of organ donation and life-saving impact of organ transplantation.

Mr Shuhla said it was “a unique chance” to have been added to the list, and he is “extremely grateful for the opportunity.”

Oxford Mail: Maksym Shuhla with his wife and daughter and his host family from AbingdonMaksym Shuhla with his wife and daughter and his host family from Abingdon

He is the current captain of the Ukrainian team for the games and will be participating in two sports: bowling and Pétanque.

He said he is “very excited” to be able to take part in the games and hopes to win some medals.

READ MORE: 'It's an opportunity to honour your donor' – an Oxfordshire man's experience training for the European Transplant Games

He said: “The games are an excellent idea. It is also a great way to let people like me know that partaking in sports is good. When I go back home, I would like to organise similar games for people like me.

“There are a lot of young people on dialysis in Ukraine and I believe such recreational activities would be good for them.”

Dr Paul Harden, renal consultant at the Churchill Hospital and chairman of Transplant Sport, which organised the event, spoke to him about the games, encouraging him to participate.

He said: “I am pleased that the European Transplant and Dialysis Games is happening in Oxford this year.

“It is an opportunity to invite the transplant and dialysis community from all over Europe, reconnect socially and take part in several sporting events to help keep them active. This is something which is important post-transplant.”

The games opened yesterday (August 21) with a parade of the athletes at the Sheldonian Theatre, in Broad Street.

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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Anna.colivicchi@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @AnnaColivicchi