A man who had a liver transplant at King’s College Hospital 16 years ago has won three gold medals and two silvers at the European Transplant Sport Championship in Sardinia.
Swimmer Simon Randerson, 61, from Lambeth, won gold in the 400m, 100m and 50m freestyle and silver in the 100m and 50m backstroke.
Competitors at the games, all of whom either have had a transplant or be receiving dialysis, take part in a variety of sports including athletics, badminton, tennis, cycling, swimming and golf.
Simon said: “I’m very pleased with my results at the European Transplant Games. Normally I do better in backstroke but this year a new Greek swimmer came and he was the better swimmer. But to get gold in all my Freestyle events reflected the training I had put in this year.
“Now training has to continue for the British Transplant Games in Birmingham in August. They are qualifiers for the World Transplant Games which will be home games, being held in Newcastle Gateshead in 2019.”
Simon, who competed in the 60-69 years of age category, took up swimming when he was recovering from his liver transplant in 2002.
“I first competed in the British Transplant Games in 2004,” he said. “I hadn’t really swum since school, but after the transplant I wanted to keep fit so I started swimming. I knew if I ever had a transplant then I would want to compete in the games.The great thing is that it motivates you to train and stay fit.”“It’s a shame that the games aren’t that well-known. Other than those who have had a transplant, very few people have heard of the transplant games and they are a great way of publicising organ donation.”
Simon said if it hadn’t been for his liver transplant he would not have survived.
“None of this would have come about without the generosity of my anonymous donor 16 years ago,” he said. “Each competition, each race, is a tribute to their kindness and a thanks to their family.
“I would encourage everyone to sign up to the organ donor register and then talk about that decision with your family. It’s important to speak about it because ultimately it’s the families who will make the decision about whether organ donation can go ahead. It’s vital, because there are so many people on the waiting list for a transplant. I was one of the lucky ones.”
Professor Nigel Heaton, who carried out Simon's transplant 16 years ago, said: "Congratulations to Simon on his wonderful achievement. I am really pleased to see that, 16 years after his transplant, he is still so fit and healthy.
“Sadly, there are many people who aren’t given the transplant operations they need because there aren’t enough donor organs for those who require them. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that people join the organ donation register and then talk about that decision with their families.”
If you would like to join the organ donor register or for more information visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk