After having surgery to repair a hole in his heart, Tommy Frank vowed he would give something back to thank the doctors who treated him.
And now amateur boxing champion Tommy, from Intake in Sheffield, has made good on his promise by becoming an ambassador for charity Heart Research UK.
The 20-year-old is one of Yorkshire’s top young fighters, having won the bantamweight title four times.
He is backing the charity’s Helping Little Hearts campaign, which aims to put in place better rehabilitation services for children following heart operations.
Tommy’s condition was spotted when he was two years old after doctors discovered he had an irregular heartbeat. However, because of his size and age, he was not able to go under the knife until the age of five.
He later took up boxing, aged 12, when he started to attend the Sheffield Boxing Centre in Hillsborough.
“My operation gave me a new lease of life,” he said.
“The only reminder I have are the stitches on my chest.”
Helping Little Hearts has helped to fund a ‘rehabilitation toolkit’ for children with heart conditions.
Adults often receive detailed advice about the lifestyle regime they should follow - but the charity says this rarely happens with youngsters.
“It’s not easy to know what you can do as a child after heart surgery, so a prescription and toolkit that helps parents to understand this will make a big difference,” Tommy said.
Barbara Harpham, Heart Research UK’s national director, said: “Tommy is a great example to youngsters who have had heart problems to show they can exercise.”
* Visit www.heartresearch.org.uk for more details.