Woodhall Spa

Lincolnshire woman competing in world sporting event after life-saving transplant

A woman who was given just five days to live before a life-saving liver transplant, is competing in her third World Transplant Games.

Alison Johns, 48, suffered a sudden acute virus that attacked her liver in 2008. At one point she was only given five days to live before an organ became available towards the end of the fifth day to save her life.

Alison, who is a golf professional at Woodhall Spa, said: “There’s not a day that goes by without me feeling grateful towards my donor and with their consent I write to my donor family every year on the anniversary of my transplant letting them know my progress.”

Alison Johns at the National Golf Centre in Woodhall Spa. Photo: Richard Hall

She won two gold medals at the Games in Argentina in 2015 and Spain in 2017. She is part of a Great Britain squad of around 510 competitors at the biannual World Transplant Games, which attracts up to 2,500 participants from over 60 countries in 16 sporting events.

Alison played in a practice day on Monday and will compete in the all-day individual event at Close House Golf Club just outside Newcastle on Tuesday, August 20. Former world number one golfer Lee Westwood will present the medals after the event.

Alison with some team-mates during the athletes parade and opening ceremony of the Games. Photo: Richard Hall

The World Transplant Games are described as “a celebration of a second chance of life, demonstrating the success of transplant surgery and promoting the need to raise public awareness of organ and tissue donation”.

The event, which started on August 17, will run until Friday, August 23 at sporting venues in the North East..

Alison Johns. Photo: Richard Hall

In the UK, around three people die every day whilst awaiting a donor and there are over 6,000 people on the waiting list

Alison, who represented GB as an amateur before joining the Ladies European Tour as a tournament professional, added: “Although I carried a Donor Card before my illness I never really thought about it until I was in that situation myself.

“My message would be to have a serious chat with your family about organ donation and let them know your wishes. My experience shows that anybody at any time could be affected by organ failure and many more lives would be saved or transformed if more people joined the register.”

Alison later joined the National Golf Centre where she has built up a reputation as a well-respected innovate coach. She has also been nominated as the first ever lady captain of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Midlands Region and plans to hold a pro-am next summer at Woodhall Spa in aid of Addenbrooke’s Transplant Unit.

Click here for more information about organ donation and to join the register.