Birmingham transplant recipient lacing up for British Games

Aiming to raise awareness of need for organ donors.

A Birmingham mum who had a double lung transplant last year is preparing to take part in a national sporting competition in Wales.

Michelle Hemmings, 47, from Perry Barr, will compete in a 1.8-mile walking event at the Westfield Health British Transplant Games on Saturday 27th July, to raise awareness of organ donation and thank the team that saved her life.

Michelle lived with the rare disease pulmonary hypertension for 21 years before receiving a double lung transplant at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge in February 2018.

Pulmonary hypertension is a serious lung and heart disease affecting just 7,000 people in the UK. There is no cure and if patients don’t respond to treatment, they may undergo a lung and/or heart transplant.

Michelle, who has a 23-year-old daughter, said: “Before my transplant, I could only manage to walk for two or three minutes, carrying oxygen. It was hard to go out and about. But now, I don’t have to carry oxygen, I can breathe unaided, and I can walk for up to an hour with regular short breaks.

“I’d heard about the Games and I always thought it could be me one day. They were in Birmingham last year, but I wasn’t well enough, so I’m really excited to be able to be part of them this summer. I want to use them to tell my story and raise awareness in all communities about the importance of organ donation.”

The Westfield Health British Transplant Games are being sponsored by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA UK), the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting people affected by pulmonary hypertension .

Iain Armstrong, chair of the PHA UK, said: “Michelle is a fantastic example of someone making the most of life after transplant and she is giving hope to everyone affected by pulmonary hypertension – as well as helping to raise awareness of this serious disease and the importance of organ donation. We wish her and the other participants all the luck in the world for this year’s competitions.”

More than sixty transplant teams from across the UK are expected to take part in the Westfield Health British Transplant Games, which are held every year. The PHA UK, based in Sheffield, is also sponsoring te World Transplant Games, which are being held in Newcastle in August.