A Bognor Regis man who came close to dying will join hundreds of transplant athletes to compete in the British Transplant Games this week.
Jim Cullen was diagnosed with End Stage Liver Disease at 60, which resulted in him requiring a life-saving liver transplant.
Liver disease is now one of the most common causes of death in England. 37% of all liver disease is Alcohol-related liver disease (ALD), with a 28% of all transplants for ALD. Jim’s liver disease was alcohol-related, and he was one of the 28%.
At the Transplant Games Jim is aiming to improve on his performance last year, when he brought home the bronze medal for table tennis. He said: “The games are an opportunity to join others from several months of age to over 70 years old who, like me, were given a second chance of life thanks to the selfless act of another human being and their family.”
The four-day annual sporting event, which begins on 2nd August in Birmingham, is expected to attract more than 800 children and adults from across the UK who will compete in a range of events including athletics, cycling and football.
Speaking of his original diagnosis, Jim said: “In March 2015, was told that, I was so seriously ill that to survive, I would need a new liver. It was a complete shock and at the time, it felt like a death sentence. The chance of reaching my next birthday was very slim.
“I stopped drinking and regained the strength needed to survive the (transplant) operation. With the news of a compatible liver, an ambulance was outside my house in 20 minutes., Following a siren and blue light journey across London, it was straight into the operating theatre. The next thing I remember was: “Wake up Jim, you’ve got a new liver”.
Following his diagnosis and liver transplant, he volunteers as a British Liver Trust support group facilitator in West Sussex to help others who suffer from liver disease.
Before becoming sick Jim was a nurse and is now completing a Return to Practice course at the University of Brighton so that he can go back to caring for others.
Audrey Cornelius, fundraising manager at the British Liver Trust said: “We wish Jim and all those taking part in the Transplant Games lots of luck. It’s an incredibly special event of celebration and appreciation and we hope everyone involved enjoys themselves.”
The British Liver Trust is the leading UK liver charity for adults; raising awareness of the risk factors of liver disease and providing support and information to patients and their families. They also campaign for better patient care and treatment. The Trust is there to help everyone affected by liver disease, whatever the cause and wherever in the UK they live.
For more information on liver disease and the British Liver Trust, please visit www.britishlivertrust.org.uk or to find out the British Transplant Games, visit http://www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk.