The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Cath competes in her fifth Transplant Games

22 June 2017

Cath Whitworth, from Halifax, is a long-term patient of the Trust, having had a liver transplant 18 years ago. A veteran of both the British and the World Transplant Games, she is now heading to Malaga, Spain, on June 25 to compete in her fifth worldwide competition.

Cath, 53, works as a neonatal nurse at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust. In 1993 she was diagnosed with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), an auto-immune disease of the liver. In 1999 Cath’s health deteriorated and she was given only a year to live unless she could find a donor. Cath was lucky enough to receive a new liver after only 5 days of being on the transplant list.

Since her surgery, Cath has been seen regularly by the transplant team at LTHT to ensure her donated liver remains healthy and in good condition.

Transplant Games

Whilst an inpatient at Leeds, a healthcare assistant mentioned the Transplant Games and suggested Cath should give it a go. Determined to live life to the full, Cath entered a swimming event in the British Transplant Games in 2000. She has gone on to compete in every games since and in four World Transplant Games on top of that.

The World Transplant Games take place every 2 years, and are supported by the International Olympic Committee. It represents the largest organ donor awareness event in the world, featuring a week of 17 sporting events.

Since she was selected to join the British team in 2003, Cath has gone on to compete in France, Bangkok, the Australian Gold Coast, and Sweden. This June in Malaga, Cath will compete in the 200 metre, 400 metre, 100 metre freestyle, 200 metre individual medley, and 50 metre butterfly events, where she hopes to add to her medal tally. In her last national competition Cath won 5 golds in each of her chosen events, and in total she’s won more than 70 medals!

But Cath insists she’s not the competitive type: “It’s more about competing against myself,” she said, “I don’t mind if there are better athletes than me. I just want to do the best I can, and try to improve every time.”

“You really feel part of a wider family,” she added. “There’s a huge range of ages who attend, including an 81 year-old man who’s also from Leeds.”

This year’s Team Great Britain is the largest ever, comprising over 200 transplant athletes. They will join 1000 other transplant athletes from 60 countries around the world. The games begin on Sunday June 25.

“A lot of people go for the occasion,” said Cath. “There’s plenty of competitive spirit, but it’s also a great way to make new friends, catch up with old ones, and celebrate life. The main thing is to raise awareness about organ donation, and to show everyone there’s life after transplant.”

You can find out more about the games on the official website: