JUST six years ago Taylor Turner was ashen grey, stuck in a wheelchair and simply trying to survive.
Now he’s proved he has a heart of courage after sprinting his way to success at the British Transplant Games.
Taylor, 13, who owes his life to receiving a new heart when was seven, has taken two bronze medals at the event – designed to be a celebration of life for transplant recipients.
The youngster, of Crown Avenue, Pitsea , was born with an extremely rare heart defect and was so ill at one point doctors decided there was nothing more they could do.
However, Taylor and his family never gave up and thanks to Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London, he was given a “miracle” heart transplant.
The pupil of Woodlands School in Basildon , picked up his medals in the 100 metres and badminton at the 35th games, held in Kent for more than 700 people.
Taylor’s mum Donna, who has three other children, said: “We were all in tears watching him. We were so proud.
“There’s no doubt about it, Taylor wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t got a new heart.
“When he came round from the transplant it was the first time in his life I’d ever seen him pink in his face. Before than, he was completely grey all the time. We were lucky he was given a heart.”
Although he still needs regular hospital check-ups, Taylor is allowed to take part in non-contact sports as long as he doesn’t exert himself too much.
Taylor said: “I like sport, especially football. I’m never going to be able to run a marathon, but I can do the 100 metres.
“My hero is Usain Bolt. I don’t think I’ll ever be as fast as him, but I can try!”
Other south Essex youngsters who have undergone life-changing transplants have also made their mark at the Games.
Kidney recipient Oliver Wishick, nine, from Leigh , went home with two bronze medals in the obstacle course and tug of war, while Olivia Taylor, six, from Thorpe Bay, who was given a kidney by her dad Paul, 40, also went home with a medal in the tug of war.
Her mother, Natalie, 38, said: “She was wonderful. She really got into it and I’m sure she will be back for future games.”