IT was 2001 when Catherine Murphy's life turned upside down. The Aghabullogue woman suddenly developed a liver problem, which in turn led her to need a life-changing liver transplant. Now, 11 years later, she is a regular participant and medallist in the Transplant Games, an event held to show the benefits of organ donation.
"It all happened very suddenly, and it turned out that I had what is called Budd-Chiari Syndrome. It means that I had a clot in my portal vein. I then had liver failure as a result. As I said, it came on suddenly, but I became quite ill," Catherine explained.
She was admitted to hospital in Dublin in August 2001, and by October she received her life- saving liver transplant. She returned to work, but upon retirement sought ways to keep active.
"I had read an article in Woman's Way about the Transplant Games. While I was retired, I wanted to do something, so I headed off to training sessions in Dublin, not knowing a single person there. Now I've just competed in my seventh Transplant Games.
"I have been in three World Games and four European games, and I've won a medal in each - I haven't won a gold yet though," she said.
Her initial disciplines included the 3km walk, but her latest victories involved the petanque singles and doubles event, a sport similar to bowling. Catherine says the main point of the games is to highlight the importance - and to show recipients that there is life after transplant operations.
"Without the generosity of a donor and a donor family I wouldn't be here today. These games show how good life can be. Organ donation and transplant does work, I have had a very good life since my operation, as most do," she said. "I have travelled all over the world since my transplant, and that is all thanks to one donor family who changed my life."