Karen Rockell is hoping to do Northampton proud tomorrow as she represents Great Britain in the World Transplant Games in Newcastle.
Karen, 64, had a successful liver transplant in October 2010 after developing liver cancer due to it being damaged by primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare autoimmune condition.
Six weeks after her transplant she had a heart attack caused by another rare condition called Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).
“It was a very scary time,” said Karen. “Getting through the liver transplant was challenging enough but then to have a heart attack was shocking.”
Doctors were mystified when Karen was blue lighted to a cardiac unit because in her transplant pre assessment tests her heart had been declared as “extremely good”.
Two months later Karen began cardiac rehab classes and then a year later began swimming for leisure.
She heard about the British Transplant Games (BTG) and entered the 2013 games at Bolton representing her transplant unit Kings College Hospital.
In 2015 Karen co-founded a charity called Beat SCAD to support others who have SCAD. She also trained as a speaker with Live Life then Give Life and gives talks on organ donation to groups across Northamptonshire.
Since then Karen has gone on to swim in five more BTG events and has represented Great Britain in the World Transplant Games in Malaga two years ago where she won four golds and one sliver medal and broke the world record for the 60-69 years 50 metre freestyle.
This year at the Westfield British Transplant Games held in Newport, in July, Karen won four gold medals in swimming, and won the overall Super Veteran Athlete Award.
“This was good practice for the world’s this August," she added.
"It is very exciting to be holding the World Transplant Games in Newcastle.
"Hosting these games is a huge challenge with 59 countries sending teams to compete in 15 sporting events the biggest of which are the swimming and athletics."
Starting on 17 August, the games run for six days and Karen’s swimming events are on tomorrow and Wednesday.
“It is such an honour to represent your country in such an amazing event. It is also extremely humbling and emotional, especially when you meet the living donors and the donor families who also attend the games."
"Without these brave people we would not be here and we want to honour our donors and their family for the enormous gift they have given us.”