Athletes from Norfolk who have been through a range of transplant operations are heading to Australia to take part in the World Transplant Games.  

They have had heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, liver, small bowel, or bone marrow transplants and will be competing Down Under for Team GB and Ireland. 

The games feature 19 different sporting events.  

Among them are John Allen from Ashwellthorpe, whose transplant story began in 2009.  

He said: “I started getting breathless playing squash, cycling and eventually, even when simply climbing stairs.  

“I was referred again to The Heart Hospital in Marylebone, London and was told to: “Never, ever set foot on a squash court again.” 

In 2017 after years of appointments, scans and treatments John was given a bed at Harefield Hospital where he would be waiting for my new heart to become available. 

Fast forward and John is back on the squash court and cycling.  

He said: “I was one of the Harefield Athletes at the 2022 British Transplant Games in Leeds, achieving a silver medal and have now been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia in April 2023 - I can hardly wait!” 

Lynne Holt, team manager, said: “We are delighted to be demonstrating the benefits of transplantation. We aim to exceed the gold medals won at the 2019 World Transplant Games in Newcastle and to win the trophy for the best team. These Games certainly deserve the same recognition as the Olympic and Para Olympic Games."

Norwich Evening News: 10k road race in the WTG 201810k road race in the WTG 2018 (Image: Caroline White)

Also heading to the games is Caroline White, who received a liver transplant in 2018.  

She said: “Five and a half months post liver transplant I competed in my first British Transplant Games competition, which started in Portsmouth back in 1978 & has been held around the country for the past 40 years.” 

Caroline is currently the world champion in triathlon.  

Norwich Evening News: Val Cooper (left) received a kidney from her sister (right)Val Cooper (left) received a kidney from her sister (right) (Image: Val Cooper)

READ MORE: Mum receives letter from late husband's organ transplant recipient

Val Cooper, from Tasburgh, is also heading to the games with Team GB.  

She said: “I found out I had Polycystic Kidneys when I was 25 after my mother had been diagnosed, she had to have a kidney transplant in her early 50s.  

“It is a hereditary disease where cysts grow on the kidneys eventually stopping the kidneys from functioning.” 

Luckily Val’s sister was clear of the disease, and so when Val started to succumb to the disease her sister offered to donate one of her kidneys.  

She said: “This was carried out in 2010 at Addenbrooke's but was not as easy as it sounds as my sister lived in New Zealand.  

“I have been so lucky to have my life back and have since visited my sister following the transplant and hopefully will be able to visit again in the future.” 

Dave Jones, who used to work at Rhone Poulenc in Norwich, found out about his condition in July 2014. 

READ MORE: Sporting celebrations for Norfolk man - just months after major operation

His sister, Cath Jones said: “Dave was a strong sports person, he had always kept himself fit, lived healthily and this was a big shock.  

“Everything moved quickly, and a stem cell transplant was the best chance of success, of treating the Leukemia and stopping it returning. 

“Several tests and health checks later I was given the all clear to donate stem cells to my brother.  

“My donated stem cells provided enough to have further top ups and thankfully Dave has stayed fit and well since 2014.  

“I am proud of him for getting involved in the transplant games and taking part in his third games is testament to his desire to raise the profile of organ donation.”