Children's Liver Disease Foundation

Children's Liver Disease Foundation

June 21, 2010 03:00 ET

Britain's Number One Tennis Player Is New Patron of CLDF

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - June 21, 2010) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this Press Release.

Britain's No.1 tennis player Elena Baltacha has become patron of Children's Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF). Baltacha was diagnosed with a liver condition at the age of 19 but has forged a successful career in professional tennis. She is hoping that her experiences will provide inspiration for children and young people suffering from liver disease.

Baltacha is currently ranked 63 and two weeks ago picked up her most prestigious grass-court title yet by winning the AEGON Trophy in Nottingham. Other notable achievements this season include reaching the third round of the Australian Open and becoming, in March, the first British woman to beat a top ten player since 1994. She was diagnosed with a condition called Primary Schlerosing Cholangitis, which affects the immune system, in 2002, yet continues to prosper as one of the most high profile female athletes in Great Britain.

"There are lots of kids and young adults whose conditions are a lot worse than mine but hopefully I can show them that however serious your condition is, it's still important to focus on what you can do and not what you can't do," said Baltacha, 26.

"I'm really proud to be becoming a patron of CLDF and I'm looking forward to getting to know lots of children and young people with liver problems and sharing our experiences."

Formed in 1980, Children's Liver Disease Foundation is a unique national charity dedicated to fighting all liver diseases of childhood. Based in Birmingham, CLDF leads the field in supporting pivotal research into all aspects of children's liver diseases, acts as a comprehensive information hub for healthcare professionals and the general public and provides a tailored support service for young people with liver disease and their families.

The charity's Chief Executive, Catherine Arkley, commented: "We are delighted that Elena has become a patron of Children's Liver Disease Foundation. It is important that families understand that a diagnosis of childhood liver disease need not stop a young person from achieving their potential and Elena's achievements in tennis are a wonderful demonstration of this.

I'm confident that she will not only be a first class ambassador for CLDF but a fantastic role model and inspiration for the thousands of children and young people in this country who are living with childhood liver disease."

Notes for editors

Facts about childhood liver disease

  1. More children in the UK are currently diagnosed with a liver disease than childhood leukaemia
  2. At least two children are diagnosed with a liver disease every day in the UK
  3. Most childhood liver diseases are life threatening; all mean a lifetime of care
  4. There are over 100 different liver diseases that can affect babies, children or young people
  5. For most childhood liver diseases the cause is unknown
  6. Liver disease has no cure
  7. CLDF is the only organisation in the UK dedicated to stamping out childhood liver disease

For further information please visit or call 0121 212 3839.

Facts about Auto-Immune Sclerosing Cholangitis (ASC)

  • Sclerosing cholangitis is an autoimmune disease in which the body's defence system, the immune system, malfunctions and attacks itself, in this case, the liver, causing irreversible liver damage.
  • With ASC the immune system attacks not only the liver cells, but also the bile ducts inside or outside the liver. The cause for the malfunction of the immune system is unknown.
  • The condition occurs most commonly between the ages of ten and 30.
  • Autoimmune liver disease is rare but is increasingly being diagnosed in the UK.
  • The most common symptoms are easily missed:
    • tiredness and generally feeling unwell
    • loss of appetite
    • deterioration of school performance
  • Other symptoms include:
    • spider naevi – (small spider like markings on the skin due to dilated blood vessels)
    • nausea and/or vomiting
    • weight loss
    • itching
    • fever
    • nose bleeds, bleeding gums, bruising easily (as blood clotting ability is affected)
    • amenorrhoea (delayed starting of periods or stop once started)
    • diarrhoea
    • colitis
    • jaundice
    • abdominal pain
  • A diagnosis is normally made by an expert after a range of extensive tests including blood tests, liver biopsy and specialist scans. 

Facts about Elena Baltacha

  • Elena Baltacha is Britain's No.1 tennis player, ranked 62 in the LTA rankings
  • She grew up in Paisley, Scotland but lives and trains in Ipswich
  • For more information, go to
  • She is scheduled to play at the AEGON International (15th - 22 June) and at the Championships, Wimbledon during the grass-court season and competes week-in, week-out on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at events around the world
  • Earlier this year she represented Great Britain in Fed Cup and is planning to compete for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October
  • Follow Elena on Twitter at @elenabaltacha

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