A PENSIONER who received a kidney transplant more than 30 years ago will represent Great Britain in the World Transplant Games.

Joan Ball, 71, of St Charles Way, Wickford, has competed several times previously, coming home with gold medals for 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5k events.

The worldwide sporting event celebrates successful organ transplantation and the gift of life through unique and inspiring events.

It aims to raise public awareness of the importance and benefits of organ donation by showing what can be achieved post-transplant.

Ms Bell, of St Charles Way, in Wickford, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease when she was 40. She received her kidney transplant in 1998 at the Royal London Hospital.

The 71-year-old described it as a life-changing experience and, after the operation, she decided to dedicate her life to the importance of promoting organ transplants and she saw an opportunity at the World Transplant Games.

She competed in her first world games in Japan in 2001, where she won her first gold medal in the women’s singles Badminton event.

Ms Bell said: “The games are an opportunity for organ recipients all over the world to celebrate the gift of life.”

“When I received my transplant it was a life changing experience for me.

“I’ve always told myself to make the most of what I have been given by my donor.”

Ms Bell waited almost three years for her kidney transplant. She described her experience as daunting as she did not know how long she had to wait.

She added: “My condition is hereditary so I knew it was coming.

“My sister had kidney failure but she died from it.

“I was on dialysis and I was just waiting for this call from the hospital to tell me if there was a donor. Some people wait ten years so I was pretty lucky.

“I was very happy when I got that call, but really it’s mixed feelings because you know your life was saved but there was another person who gave up his or her chance to live, to gift you another chance of life.”

Joan works tirelessly to raise awareness of organ donation and speaks to patients at the Royal London Hospital who have recently received a transplant to encourage them to live a healthy and happy life.

Norbert McGarr, from Billericay, who had a kidney transplant 29 years ago, will also be competing in the World Transplant Games, which will be held in Gateshead and Newcastle from in August.

The spectacular Joan and Norbert are among 400 transplanted athletes selected across the UK to represent the country.

The pair will be joined by fellow Essex athletes, Jack Booth and Charlotte Archer-Gay, who both live in Romford.

Athletes from 59 countries are to take part in 16 different sports including athletics, swimming and football.