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Transplant survivor struck up a friendship with his surgeon on the squash court

  • 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. You can find out about the schedule, here.

Richard Finney from Newcastle claims that playing sport was the key to his rehabilitation after a liver transplant.

But he has an unlikely squash-mate, his surgeon.

Derek Manners, who works at the Freeman Hospital says Richard embodies the spirit of the Games, which is all about keeping active after before and after surgery.

(L-R) Richard and Derek struck up a friendship after surgery Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The pair go back to the late 90s when a deeply jaundiced Richard fell ill with a rare autoimmune condition, leading to surgeon Derek to conduct his full liver transplant in 2010.

When I discovered I had a condition, I thought OK I'll deal with that but when I realised it was as serious as it was that was a bit of a shock. The first operation was basically to buy me some time and when I was told I'd need a transplantation to be able to survive to live that takes a bit of getting used to.

– Richard Finney

But the person who saved his life was also instrumental in bringing him back to full fitness.

Richard said during the treatment process he and Derek made a promise to get back on the squash court, but Derek wouldn't admit that Richard could beat him. Although, Richard said, "we did that within 7 months of my transplant".

Richard underwent a full liver transplant in 2010 Credit: Family photo

Richard will also compete in the golf for the World Transplant Games. During training, he's had the chance to reflect on the second chance in life an organ transplant has given him.

Someone else has to lose for me to win. You are basically waiting for someone else's life to be decimated for you to survive.

– Richard Finney

You can read more incredible stories of competitors from our region, here:

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