COLERAINE woman Susan Barr completed an emotional journey last week as she won seven medals at the 18th World Transplant Games in Gothenburg, Sweden.
It was fitting that just days after Father’s Day swimming star Susan won six gold and one silver medal just 18 months after receiving the ultimate life saving gift of a kidney from her father, Sam.
“I can’t thank my family and friends enough for getting me through the last 10 years,” said Susan, who now lives in Newbury, England.
“The operation in October 2009 was a complete success and after a speedy recovery I was back in the gym and swimming pool to get my fitness back.
“It was during my time at the West Berkshire Hospital in Reading that I was first approached about competing at the games.
“They have a team there which competes at the British Transplant Games and helps raise awareness that life can carry on even after a transplant.
“I did extremely well in the months after the transplant and was approached by the UK swimming coach and asked to swim for Team GB in the World Transplant Games in Gothenburg.
“It was tough to get the time to train, so I was more focused on just going to take part and enjoy the experience.
“So to have come home with seven medals is unbelievable.”
Susan produced a magnificent display in the pool setting a new world record in the 100m back stroke, freestyle and 200m medley.
Susan also won gold in the 50m breast stroke, 200m individual medley and 50m butterfly as well as silver in the 50m back stroke.
“The two days were absolutely amazing,” she said.
“It was very emotional, I shed a few tears going up to collect my medals.
“I’d like to say a huge thanks to my mum and dad for their support over the two days, I think they were quite proud!
“Though it’s all down to my dad at the end of the day!”
Athletes from 36 countries took part in a wide range of sporting events at the games.
The aim of the Transplant games is to celebrate the success of transplantation and to show that organ donation works.
Every competitor from the youngest to the oldest is a winner as they have achieved the greatest victory of all - the gift of life!
Susan hopes her success will highlight the difference organ donation can make and she would encourage everyone to sign the Organ Donation Register to help save the lives of other people.
The British Transplant Games are being held in Belfast from August 4th - 7th this year and everyone is encouraged to support this.
STORY: Steven Crawford