TWELVE years ago Catherine Whitworth underwent life-saving liver transplant surgery and is now fitter than ever.
She has recently returned from the World Transplant Games in Sweden with her best medal haul yet – two gold, two silver and a bronze.
The 47-year-old mum-of-two, of Hollins Bank, Sowerby Bridge, swam as a child but never competitively.
But, while recovering in her hospital bed and planning her route back to fitness, she set herself the target of competing in transplant games.
She was later selected for the British Transplant Games and as her fitness improved she won a place in the World Transplant Games in France 2003, Thailand 2007 and Australia 2009, where she won her first gold in the 200 metre medley.
Gold in Sweden came in the 400-metre freestyle and the 200-metre individual medley; silver in the 200-metre freestyle and 100-metre breastroke; and bronze in the 50-metre butterfly.
“It was a really good experience. We were all there because we have had life-saving organ transplants,” said Mrs Whitworth, a nurse in the neo-natal unit at the Calderdale Royal Hospital.
“I really enjoy it and by training and seeing improvements it has encouraged me to carry on,” she said.
“Fitness plays an important part in my health.
“When you need a liver transplant you don’t know what to expect but I have been really fortunate and my health is good.”
Mrs Whitworth suffered from an auto-immune disorder which was stopping her liver from functioning.
She said transplant games – where competitors have to fund their own costs – raised awareness of the importance of organ donation.
“Life continues after organ donations and for me 12 years down the line, life is brilliant.”
Mrs Whitworth is married to Paul and the couple have two sons, James, 19, and Matthew, 16.