A local athlete has returned from the British Transplant Games, held in Liverpool at the end of July, with a haul of four medals.
Emma Barnes, who is a member of Bradley Stoke based North Bristol Running Group, won gold in her age category in the 4 x 100m relay, silver in the 200m and bronze in the 400m. She also clinched a gold medal in the badminton doubles competition.
Held annually at different venues across the country, the Games aim to demonstrate the benefits of transplantation whilst increasing public awareness of the need for more people to join the NHS Organ Donation Register and discuss their wishes with their families.
The 22-year-old was attending her second Games since receiving a liver transplant at Kings College Hospital, London in September 2013 – after being diagnosed with a extremely rare tumour.
Looking back on her experience prior to her transplant, Emma said:
“It was a really horrible and incredibly stressful time waiting on the transplant list as I had no idea how long I would have to wait or when I would get the call. I couldn’t go further than half-an-hour away from my house in case I got the call and had to make sure that I always had signal on my phone. I had to wait eight-and-half months and became increasingly ill in this time.”
Speaking about what makes the Games special for those taking part, Emma said:
“It’s really great as it gives you the opportunity to meet lots of other inspirational people who have all had life-saving transplants, like myself, whilst competing and taking part in lots of different sports. Everyone understands what each other has been through and it feels like one big family. It shows what amazing things can be achieved as a result of organ donation as none of us would be here without it.”
Emma joined North Bristol Running Group in February this year with her mum and they took part in the popular beginners’ course.
“Everyone there is really friendly and very supportive. Being in the group encouraged me to take part in my first-ever 10k race, the Bradley Stoke 10k in June, which I never thought would be possible. Being part of the group has been really helpful with increasing my fitness levels and has given me confidence in my ability.”
Emma is also a regular badminton player and, before her transplant, also played tennis – even helping out with coaching on Saturday mornings.
Reflecting on her sporting successes, Emma said:
“The Transplant Games prove what amazing things can be achieved after organ donation and I just hope that this will inspire people to sign the organ donor register. I cannot thank my amazing donor enough for giving me my life back and I will forever be grateful to them and their family for making that life-saving decision.”
“Organ donors are real-life heroes; they save people’s lives. They are incredible people. Being an organ donor means you can save not only one life, but several lives.”
“It is really important that as many people as possible sign the than donor list. It only takes a couple of minutes to sign the register, or to have the talk with your loved ones.”
To register as an organ donor, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 or pick up a form at your GP surgery.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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