Nicole Mackenzie’s World Transplant Games dream is alive and kicking.
The gutsy 13-year-old from Purbrook has battled back from a major setback to maintain her bid to make the games in Sweden in June.
Mackenzie lost a litre of blood from her kidneys in February and was rushed to London for surgery.
Amazingly, though, the Portsmouth Northsea talent was back training in the pool just four weeks later.
The Purbrook Park pupil endured double kidney failure and a kidney transplant two years ago.
But she showed her class and determination to win two golds and a silver, along with two bronze medals, at the British Games in Bath last August. And her outstanding resilience was seen again, with Mackenzie back training and turning out for her football team, Widbrook United.
Now she is gearing up to take on the world’s best in Gothenburg next month.
Speaking at a sponsored swim to raise funds for her bid, Mackenzie said: ‘I’m really looking forward to Sweden so we’re trying our best to raise the money I need.
‘It’s amazing to see all these people making this effort to help.
‘I had a setback in February when I had a biopsy and my kidneys then started to bleed.
‘The blood was running from the kidneys and started to put pressure on it. That gave me a lot of pain.
‘So they took me to hospital in Portsmouth and then put me in an ambulance to go to hospital in London.
‘They took me to theatre and then took a litre of blood out of my stomach. They gave me a blood transfusion and stopped the blood running from my kidney.
‘They sewed me up and then took me back to the ward.
‘But four weeks later I was back in the pool again and playing football six weeks later.
‘The training is really tough sometimes but it’s worth it.’
With Mackenzie needing £3,500 to cover the cost of competing at the games, Northsea turned out in force to support her bid last week.
Northsea spokeswomen, Georgia Smith, said: ‘We got the whole club in for the event, so there was around 200 swimmers. They all worked together to swim the distance from Portsmouth to Sweden, where the games are.
‘That is obviously because the World Transplant Games are in Sweden.
‘It’s been good fun and we have had people all trying to raise money to help. We had a raffle and some fantastic prizes from local businesses.
‘It all went really, really well.’