Steve Donaldson is in training for his third Transplant Games thanks to a heart transplant he received at NHS Golden Jubilee 12 years ago.
Steve has had a heart condition since the age of 18 when he suddenly collapsed and was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy.
This gradually developed into severe heart failure, which needed several interventional treatments, including implantable defibrillators, until he was put on the heart transplant list in 2010.
Steve first competed in Spain in 2017 and Newcastle in 2019, where he raced to a Bronze medal in the cycling Team Time Trial.
Steve said: “My ambition is to die of old age. I lost my wife Linda in 2015 to breast cancer and we had good discussions before she passed away.
“By the time she was really ill, the only good thing was that I’d had my transplant, so I was able to be there for her.
“She had supported me all through the years of my illness, so having the transplant gave me the opportunity to be there and care for her, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.
“Linda told me to go out and enjoy my life, so this might just be the first time in my life I’m actually doing what I was told.
“Cycling and competing in the World Transplant Games is just one way I’m honouring Linda’s wishes.
“My training is going well and I’m hoping to win a medal again so I’m really looking forward to it and going there with a winning mentality, but it’s exceedingly competitive.”
Based in Clydebank, the Golden Jubilee National University Hospital is home to the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service (SNAHFS), the only adult heart transplantation centre in Scotland.
Under the care of the Golden Jubilee for around 14 years, Steve considers the transplant team as part of his extended family.
Steve explained: “Post-transplant is an emotional rollercoaster. One side of this is that there’s this family who have given you life because they’ve honoured the wishes of their loved one who was an organ donor.
“On the other side of that, myself and my family are really happy because I’m living, so without the donors and their families, myself and countless others wouldn’t be here.
“The whole staff at the Golden Jubilee become your family too, they become a big part of your life. They’re always there for you when you need them, and they’ll tell you off when they need to as well, so it’s just like a real family. They’re the ultimate professionals, every single of them, and I can’t thank them enough.”
The Transplant Coordination team are helping Steve’s dream of competing in Perth at the Games from 15-21 April and have raised £850 so far from a fundraising sale and donations from staff.
Steve added: “I’m amazed at the amount the Golden Jubilee have raised for me, I just hope I can do them proud. I would like to thank the whole team at the Golden Jubilee for all of their support.”
Advanced Heart Failure Nurse Specialist and Transplant Co-ordinator, Lorraine Jerrett, said: “Steve is such an inspiration to everyone and to compete at the World Transplant Games at such a high level for a third time shows how organ donation can transform lives.
“He gives hope to all of our patients awaiting transplantation, including speaking with them and giving them the benefit of his experiences. He is a great ambassador for organ donation so we all wanted to help him get to Australia and we will be supporting him all the way.
“Organ donation is a personal decision and you have a choice about whether or not you want to donate. Whatever your decision, register it and tell your loved ones, it will make it easier for them to ensure it is honoured.”
SNAHFS is responsible for providing advanced heart failure therapies throughout Scotland, including several forms of mechanical cardiac support and heart transplantation.
NHS Golden Jubilee Consultant Transplant Cardiologist, Veronica Baston, said: “Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is not able to pump blood around the body as well as it should, with typical symptoms including breathlessness, fatigue or swollen ankles.
“More than 900,000 people in Britain live with heart failure, which is now described as an epidemic.
“We look after very sick patients with poor quality of life and witness how transplantation can transform their lives, as Steve has so admirably shown and we all wish him all the very best in the upcoming Games.”