Bognor man competes in British Transplant Games after life-saving liver operation

Jim Cullen at the British Transplant Games
Jim Cullen at the British Transplant Games

A Bognor Regis man who came close to dying joined hundreds of transplant athletes to compete in the British Transplant Games last week.

The four day annual sporting event began on August 2 in Birmingham.

Jim Cullen was diagnosed with End Stage Liver Disease at 60, which resulted in him requiring a life-saving liver transplant.

Jim, who came third in table tennis at the British Transplant Games, said: “The games are an opportunity to join others from several months of age to over 70 years old who, like me, were given a second chance of life thanks to the selfless act of another human being and their family.”

Liver disease is now one of the most common causes of death in England - 37 per cent of all liver disease is Alcohol-related, with a 28 per cent of all liver transplants related to alcohol-related liver disease. Jim’s liver disease was alcohol-related, and he was one of the 28 per cent.

Speaking of his original diagnosis, Jim said: “In March 2015, was told that, I was so seriously ill that to survive, I would need a new liver. It was a complete shock and at the time, it felt like a death sentence. The chance of reaching my next birthday was very slim.

“I stopped drinking and regained the strength needed to survive the transplant operation. With the news of a compatible liver, an ambulance was outside my house in 20 minutes., Following a siren and blue light journey across London, it was straight into the operating theatre. The next thing I remember was: ‘Wake up Jim, you’ve got a new liver’.”

Following his diagnosis and liver transplant, he volunteers as a British Liver Trust support group facilitator in West Sussex to help others who suffer from liver disease.

Before becoming sick Jim was a nurse and is now completing a Return to Practice course at the University of Brighton so that he can go back to caring for others.

The British Liver Trust is the leading UK liver charity for adults; raising awareness of the risk factors of liver disease and providing support and information to patients and their families. They also campaign for better patient care and treatment. The trust is there to help everyone affected by liver disease, whatever the cause and wherever in the UK they live.

For more information on liver disease and the British Liver Trust, visit www.britishlivertrust.org.uk or to find out the British Transplant Games, visit www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk.