When Deikin Borthwick was 5 his mother, Deidre Borthwick, noticed his eyes were rapidly turning yellow.
He had jaundice and after being looked at by doctors, Deikin was flown to Starship Hospital in Auckland.
He needed an urgent liver transplant and spent six months receiving treatment.
These days, Deikin (now 12) spends his spare time tearing up the speedway track in his 1995 Honda Civic.
“I love it. It’s a big passion,” Deikin said.
After getting in the driver’s seat in September, Deikin has been unstoppable.
He had competed in more than 10 races in the youth saloon grade for drivers aged from 12 to 16.
The races, held at both Riverside Speedway in Invercargill and Beachlands Speedway in Dunedin, were the highlight of his week.
“It’s like a big family at the track. Everybody helps each other out with their cars.”
His best outing so far was seventh out of 26 drivers, he said.
It was impressive considering he was competing against 16-year-olds who had much faster vehicles.
While it was a non-contact sport on the quarter-mile track, Deikin said there were always the slip-ups.
“I’m happy if I finish. If the car goes back on the trailer in once piece it’s been a good night.”
Speedway had always been in his blood after watching his father, Aaron, compete since he was 8.
After his liver transplant, Deikin’s liver now sat below his ribs, making him unable to play contact sports.
“I wanted to do something for fun. It’s [speedway] cheaper than other hobbies,” Deikin said.
Mr Borthwick said it took about one month for them to build Deikin’s Honda Civic.
“It needs to be fitted out with everything and his safety gear that he absolutely has to wear.
“It cost about $1000 for all of his safety gear all up – it’s a reasonably cheap sport compared to some others,” Mr Borthwick said.
When the speedway season wrapped up next month, Deikin would spend his time honing his craft.
“I want to build a new one [car] over the summer, build something that’s a little bit quicker for the next season.