The 42nd British Transplant Games begins in Newport this week and Royal Papworth Hospital will be taking its biggest-ever team.
The Welsh city is hosting the event – which will see more than 1,000 transplant athletes from more than 50 hospitals compete in 23 different sports - from Thursday 25 July to Sunday 28 July.
Royal Papworth will be represented by a squad of 39 transplant patients, four more than the 35-strong team who last year retained the trophy for ‘Best Heart & Lungs Hospital’ for the third year running.
Here, we focus on Lesley Burch, who will be competing in the event for the second time, having also represented Royal Papworth in 2018.
Name: Lesley Burch
Transplant: Heart transplant, 2010
Events: 5km bike time trial (defending champion) and 100m running
“All of us competing at the Games wouldn’t be able to do any of this without our donors. Being part of this event feels so special, so privileged.
“I received a donated heart at Royal Papworth at the age of 56. I had had a cough for about four days and just put it down to a minor respiratory infection.
“Within 10 weeks, I had been diagnosed with sudden onset acute heart failure, was transferred from Southampton General Hospital to Royal Papworth and had my transplant.
“I’m so glad I am representing Royal Papworth once again, I wouldn’t have wanted to be referred anywhere else when I had my treatment nine years ago.
“The cycling is my favourite event and I’m defending my title in the 60-69 age category after winning at my first attempt last year. I have my husband to thank for that because he is a super cycling enthusiast and devoted his time to me to help me improve.
“The 100m will be the challenging one, but I’m doing that in memory of my donor so will be giving it my very best!”
The aim of the Games is to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and will be followed by the World Transplant Games in Newcastle in August.
Sports include athletics, basketball, snooker and volleyball, with the youngest competitor aged just three-years-old.
Maggie Gambrill, Team Manager for Royal Papworth Transplant Sport, said: “The British Transplant Games is an important annual event in our Transplant Sport calendar. This year we will have our largest team ever taken to the Games and includes 11 new members. We will also be taking 62 supporters with us to cheer us on.
“The event provides a real focus to keep fit and well and is a great way of showcasing what people can achieve after transplant. The team has a wonderful camaraderie and the new members will be made very welcome. The Royal Papworth Transplant Sport team is inspirational and I'm very proud to be their team manager."