World Transplant Games: hosted by Newcastle and Gateshead between 17-24 August 2019.
The World Transplant Games are coming to the North East this summer. Celebrated as the second chance of life, the Games demonstrate the success of transplant surgery and promote awareness of organ and tissue donation.
This year 2,237 athletes from 60 countries will be taking part in 15 sports across Tyneside and Wearside. Events include archery, athletics, tennis and even a virtual triathlon.
Mike Gibbons is the oldest Team GB competitor at the World Transplant Games.
At 83, he says it’s a “privilege” to take part, “I don’t really think about the age.”
After being diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, Mike spent more than two years on dialysis, before reluctantly accepting a donor kidney from wife Ann.
“I told him from day one you can have one of mine unless it's rubbish”, Ann says. “He wouldn’t even go and be tested so I wasn’t allowed. He said, ‘I’m not putting you through a big operation but I kept pestering.”
As Mike’s health deteriorated, he was persuaded to go ahead with the transplant.
“I was getting weaker and I eventually took her up on that task and in 2007 it all happened.”
Back to full fitness, Mike runs three times a week and has returned to the squash court.
Ann says that “some think he’s a bit mad but I think it’s wonderful. I’d never say you’re too old and he always says 'I’d know myself when I can’t do it anymore.'”
Having saved her husband’s life – Mike and Ann have been married for twenty years – she “says she’d do it ten times over again if it was possible.”
Mike says he “owes her my life … I don’t know how I can repay her apart from survive.”