Johns takes gold at the 2023 British Transplant Games

Johns takes gold at the 2023 British Transplant Games


Woodhall Spa PGA Professional Alison Johns has said she is “over the moon” to win a gold medal at this year’s British Transplant Games in Coventry.

Johns, who had an emergency liver transplant in 2009 after suffering from an unknown virus that left her with just days to live, has competed at the Games annually since 2013.

Representing Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where she received her transplant, the pro took gold in the golf competition, which was played at The Warwickshire Golf Club from 27-30th July.

“It’s a tough course,” she said. “I was nervous on the first tee but managed to hit a good drive - the first two holes are pretty challenging par 4s and I managed to par both of them, so that was a really good start, which I was pleased with and away we went.

“Everybody is happy for everybody in the tournament however they finish, but I was over the moon to win - it’s just so great to win the medal!

“I think I’ve played in eight British Transplant Games now, and I believe I’ve got seven gold medals and one silver. Regardless of being a golf professional, if you’ve had a transplant you can play in these games which is great because it’s about awareness, that life can go on and how important sports are, and you see everybody else who has had transplants, so it’s great to catch up with people, meet new people and just talk about their stories and their journey.”

Johns, who has also represented Team GB at the World Transplant Games, received her transplant a month after falling ill in December 2008. She suffered from acute liver failure and within six weeks, she was told by doctors that without a liver transplant, she would die.

“I got ill really quickly from an unknown virus that attacked my liver,” explained Johns. “I was given five days left to live, so I didn't have time to wait and because of my age, and the fact that it wasn’t alcohol-related, I was put to the top of the list. So I was very unlucky but lucky as well - it saved my life.”

Johns’ road to recovery after her transplant was long, taking her around eight months to fully recover. She continued: “When I came out of the hospital I had to go and live with my parents to be looked after.

"I got ill at the beginning of December, and then on the 9th January I had the transplant, so all that time in hospital and in bed - you lose all your muscle mass and your energy and everything, so it took a while.

“My parents live near a golf course, and one of my friends worked in a little coffee shop there so my first venture out was to walk 500 yards up to the golf course, but then I didn’t even have enough energy to walk back!

"I did get back to work one day in the March to do golf school with another professional - I managed to do it as it was only a couple of hours, but it was just too early, the pain was too much unfortunately.”

Now fully recovered and taking part in the British Transplant Games annually since 2013, Johns has a new lease of life. She also represented Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Argentina in 2015, going on to win gold in the individual competition and bronze in the team competition.

“I didn’t know what to expect and it really was amazing. The club where I work, Woodhall Spa, they raised money for me and my trip which was amazing. Then I played in 2017 in Malaga and managed to win gold there, and in 2019 it was in Newcastle and I managed to win gold there as well. It’s great to be able to compete in these Games. It’s a special time for me, and to be able to spread the word about organ donation, it’s very close to my heart.”

Seven thousand people in the UK are currently waiting for a life-saving transplant and in 2022, 430 people died waiting. In 2020, the law around organ donation in England was changed to allow more people to save lives. All adults in England are now considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in an excluded group.

Johns is keen to spread the message about the importance of organ donation, after it saved her life in 2009.

She added: “It’s so important to have the chat with your family, if you agree and you want to donate your organs, because a family can withdraw that, so that’s why I say it’s so important to make them aware of what you’d like to do.

“Organ donation saved my life, and you can save so many lives. It’s a difficult situation and decision to make, but it’s so important for everybody to have the chat about if they are willing to donate their organs and ensure that all their family members know their wishes.”

CLICK HERE to find out more about the British Transplant Games.

CLICK HERE to find out more about organ donation in the UK.


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