Telford Tigers youngster hopes to follow ice hockey dream despite rare condition
A 10-year-old Telford Tigers starlet is dreaming of skating to ice hockey stardom after overcoming seven operations due to a rare condition.
Bayley Bland was just six weeks old when he became ill and was later diagnosed with a very rare variant of congenital bladder outlet obstruction.
Ever since he has been cared for by Birmingham Children's Hospital's urology and renal teams for his condition, which causes severe blockages in the bladder – resulting in pressure being exerted on the kidneys, and difficulties urinating.
His mother Tracey said: "As his mum, I just knew something wasn't right. It was such a hard time, and a long recovery for Bayley. He has had seven operations to date, and in the beginning we thought he would lose his kidney."
One of the Wolverhampton youngster's biggest operations was a vesicostomy – a procedure in which a small opening is made to the abdomen, just below the belly button, that allows urine to drain from the bladder.
The specialist teams performed another major operation called a Mitrofanoff procedure in October 2016. This created a new tube into his belly button from the bladder so he could urinate using a catheter.
His mother added: “The procedure went really well and Bayley has come on leaps and bounds. He can manage the catheter himself and doesn’t have to worry about his bladder as much anymore. It meant he can really focus on doing what he loves, which is sport.”
Bayley, who attends primary school in Penn, is determined not to let his condition stop him from achieving his ambition of playing ice hockey for Great Britain – a dream he has had after watching a Telford Tigers game with his family several years ago.
"Bayley was really upset at the thought of not being able to play because of his condition," Tracey said.
"But after asking the coach and Mr McCarthy (from the hospital) they gave him the go-ahead. He was over the moon and put everything into learning how to skate and joining an ice hockey team.”
After being accepted into the Telford Tigers, Bayley now plays for the under-12s team. Inspired by the likes of his heroes Sam Watkins, Vladimir Luca and Finley Howells, he has set his sights on emulating them and, one day, skating onto the rink with the adults’ team.
He said: "My dream is to play for the Telford Tigers 1 and to make it to the Great Britain team. I'd also love to go to Canada or America to watch an NHL match and skate on a lake."
Bayley, who is also a fan of Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers in the NHL, still attends the hospital regularly for check-ups but following years of treatment, thankfully, his kidneys are now healthy.
Tracey added: "We are so proud of Bayley. He has overcome so much and is so open and brave about his condition. He has never let it stop him from following his dream. Bayley always has an ice hockey stick in his hand. He puts everything into it and never gives up.
"We can't thank Mr McCarthy and the team enough. They saved Bayley's kidney when we thought he would lose it. When he was in the hospital for his operations, the nurses were so lovely and kind; I wanted to bring them home with me.
“When we were on the ward, the nurses would make up a bed for me so I could sleep next to Bayley. They washed and dried his favourite pyjamas since he refused to sleep in anything else. It's little things like that that I'll never forget. I am so grateful to the team for everything they have done.”
Liam McCarthy, consultant paediatric urologist and renal transplant surgeon, said: “Our aim has always been to allow Bayley to live the life he wants to. His family have been tremendously supportive and they should feel rightly pleased with how well he is doing.
“We all know how much ice hockey means to him and everyone at the children’s hospital would just say ‘go Bayley, go’ when it comes to realising his dreams.”
Bayley is looking to forward to taking part in his next tournament this summer.