I received a heart & lung transplant 26 years ago, due to suffering from Cystic Fibrosis.
It all began when I was just 18 months old I was diagnosed with CF. My parents knew I had Cystic Fibrosis because my older sister Caroline who was seven years my senior already suffered from it. My other sister (middle of the three of us) Debbie, was thankfully in perfect health.
Caroline and I had a relatively healthy childhood, apart from the odd chest infection from time to time. By the time she was a teenager though, Caroline started to show a marked decline and tragically when I was only eighteen years old I lost Caroline. She was only 25. When my beautiful sister died I became determined to beat this dreaded disease and not let CF beat me.
On 26th October 1993 I had twelve days to go to equal Caroline’s lifespan. It was on that day however, being so close to history repeating itself, that my prayers were answered. I received the heart and lung transplant I had been waiting on for more than two and a half years . My donor was just 23 years old when they died in a road traffic accident on the Isle of Man. So I am young at heart, at least by two years! From that day onwards my life transformed.
I slowly changed from being a six stone invalid dependent on wheelchair and oxygen to a full of life sporting athlete. I have since entered numerous British, European and World Transplant Games playing Badminton. In 2004 I tried my hand at Tennis and soon became hooked; I joined an LTA tennis club in Maidstone, Kent playing three times a week. I cannot remember how many medals I have gained over the years, all I know is that I have enjoyed every bit of taking part in my racquet sports and touring the world whilst winning them.
I have now been selected to compete for the World Transplant Games in Malaga Spain in July 2017. Because of this my training and practice will increase dramatically so with the aid of a little luck, I can bring home another medal and make my country proud. I would encourage anyone of any ability or fitness to trial tennis or badminton as a fun way to exercise and keep fit. I guarantee you that you will be inspired to take up this exciting sport.
To have achieved so much in the past twenty three years, it is something I am very thankful for and also proud to show what can be done as a result of one act of selflessness when such a tragedy befalls a family. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to that family. That without their courage, the expertise and professionalism of the medical team at Harefield and the Royal Brompton Hospital and the love and support of my family and friends, I would not have survived another twenty three months, let alone years! For that I am truly thankful. I hope that reading this encourages more people to sign up to the Organ Donor register and most importantly to discuss their wishes with their family members.
It is a true fact that you are more than likely to need an organ than to donate an organ.