Double Lung Transplant Recipient Takes Double Gold At Transplant Games

THE recipient of a double lung transplant who only has 23 per cent lung capacity has beaten the odds to become double European champion in table tennis. It brings his European Transplant Games gold tally to six, as well as a number of silver and bronze medals to add to his British titles. Mark Allen, 44, originally from Lichfield, who lives in Widnes, Cheshire, took gold in both the singles and doubles in this this year’s Vantaa 2016 European Heart and Lung Transplant Championships in Vantaa in Finland The communications officer for Halton Borough Council, travelled to Finland last week to defend his previous title and is now gearing up to compete again in next week’s British Transplant Games taking place in Liverpool from Thursday 28 to Sunday 31 July. Mark said, “The medals were a bonus, but it was great seeing people from different countries all with something in common. Some of whom I have known for years, and raise awareness Europe-wide about the benefits of transplantation.” Mark was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 9 months old, causing mucus to develop in the lungs. Already challenged with limited lung capacity, Mark fell ill with pneumonia while working as an English teacher in Korea in 2005. Hospitalised and in a serious condition, doctors caused damage to his trachea by leaving him ventilated too long. This also had serious consequences for Mark’s lungs, which deteriorated rapidly leaving him in a life or death situation needing a double lung transplant. That same year Mark received his double lung transplant at The Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle but suffered rejection in 2006 leaving Mark to now live with just between 20 and 25-per cent overall lung capacity. Mark added, “I don’t let this hold me back. Sport has always been an important part of my lifestyle and I keep as active as my lungs will allow. “Winning medals at the European Games just goes to show people that you don’t have to let your health problems get in the way of living life to the full. I’m a walking demonstration of just how important and amazing organ donation is.” Mark will showcase that importance at the upcoming Westfield Health British Transplant Games when they arrive in Liverpool for the first time next Thursday, July 28. Mark will join over 900 participants who have each received life-saving and life-changing organ and tissue transplants. The uplifting celebration of life will see transplant recipients, live donors including altruistic donors and their supporters take part in over 30 sports together. Donor families who made the agonising decision to allow their loved ones’ organs to be donated upon their passing will also be on hand as guests of honour to present medals to the winners. Mark said, “I love the transplant competitions as it brings people together. The main aim of the British Games is to raise awareness of how being on the donor register can make the world of difference, but having the chat with your family about your wishes is the most important message.” Both the European and British Transplant Games aim to raise awareness of organ donation. The Westfield Health British Transplant Games has an overall objective of adding 10,000 local signatures to the Organ Donor Register this year, and most importantly getting people to let their families know their wishes and help raise the level of consent up from its current figure of just 58%. For more information on the Games, please visit www.BritishTransplantGames.co.uk