Published: Saturday, January 25th, 2014
Golden Jubilee patient wins Gold at World Winter Transplant Games
Suzanne Swinson, a 61 year old heart transplant patient of the Golden Jubilee National Hospital (GJNH) celebrated the third anniversary of her procedure in style, picking up a Gold medal, three Silver medals and a Bronze medal in the 2014 World Winter Transplant Games.
The winter games, which take place every other year, raises public awareness of the importance of organ donation and demonstrates the benefits of exercise for post transplant patients, took place in La Chapelle d’Abondance, with 300 competitors from around the world coming together to go head to head across 12 events.
In 2008, Suzanne was fit, healthy and looking forward to another active winter of hill walking, curling and skiing. However, following a routine trip to the doctor, she was suddenly diagnosed with severe heart failure.
Suzanne commented on the diagnosis, saying: “I thought ‘somebody has made a mistake’. But they hadn’t – it was true. I only expected to have a few years to live, so I was determined to make the most of my time. Looking back, I wonder how I packed so much in during that time. Seeing family and friends, enjoying the theatre, holidays and loads of activities I should never have attempted given my condition.”
In 2011, Suzanne was admitted to the Golden Jubilee where she was informed that a heart transplant was her only option. After five weeks, a donor heart was found and Suzanne underwent a successful heart transplant.
Three years later, and determined to prove that you can get back to a normal life after a transplant, Suzanne competed in the 2014 games. First picking up the Silver Medal for the Giant Slalom, she went on to secure two more Silver Medals for the Slalom and Team Slalom skiing events, a bronze in the parallel slalom and skipped the Curling team to Gold.
Suzanne said: “In the spring of 2011, lying flat on my back and hooked up to a heart assist machine, I knew that a heart transplant was my only hope of life. I desperately wanted that chance – the small window of opportunity.
“I was determined to take part in the Winter World Transplant Games. To be one of the 300 participants from around the world highlighting the benefits of organ donation by taking part in winter sports; proving you can lead a normal and active life again after transplantation.
“It’s one of the most inspirational things I have ever been a part of and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone in the Golden Jubilee National Hospital Transplant Unit for all they have done for me and to everyone who has shown me support via Facebook and my blog.”
Commenting on Suzanne’s tremendous achievement Mike Higgins, Medical Director of the GJNH said: “We are absolutely thrilled to hear that Suzanne is doing so well and has not only managed to make it to the games, but to have taken home medals in five different events is just extraordinary.
“Our goal at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital is to ensure that every patient we treat receives the highest possible standard of care, and is able to enjoy a full and active life. Suzanne is living proof that there is no limit to what you can accomplish after transplantation if you set your mind to it.”
Suzanne’s transplant wouldn’t have been possible without organ donation The Scottish Organ Donation Campaign and the Golden Jubilee National Hospital encourage everyone to have a conversation with their family, friends and loved ones to let them know they want to be an organ donor. For more information, and to join the Organ Donor Register, head over to www.organdonationscotland.org.