A FORMER forensic scientist who got a liver transplant 10 years ago has won four medals at a major European championships.
Deirdre Faul (46), from Dalkey, bagged a silver and three bronze medals at the European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Krakow.
A decade ago, medics diagnosed the mother-of-two with sea sickness after she complained of dizziness.
"I wasn't long-term ill. I got sick and I was feeling dizzy. I went to the doctor and he treated me for sea sickness. A week later, I had jaundice and I had a scan. They thought I had gall stones.
"But it turned out I had acute liver failure. Basically, it conked out on me. They said it must have been a virus," Deirdre told the Herald.
She was lucky in that the donated liver was from "a lady in her 30s" so she "got a good match", she said.
"I'm very lucky to have that. If I didn't get that liver I wouldn't be around," Deirdre added.
Deirdre's performance came a week after she competed in the British Transplant Games in Bolton where she won six gold medals and four trophies in swimming and squash.
On Monday in Krakow, she won silver in the 50-metre breast stroke and bronze in the 100-metre breast stroke, the 50-metre freestyle and the 400-metre freestyle.
She is now looking ahead to the World Transplant Games in Argentina next year.
Her two sons, aged 14 and 16, are "pretty proud" of her, she said.
"It's a great thing to be doing and it's a good example to them of how to recover from things rather than sitting around and moping about life," she said.
She is hoping Swim Ireland will now offer support to transplant athletes like herself.
"We don't actually have proper coaches," Deirdre said.
Her medal haul is all the more impressive when it is considered that she was competing against 16 and 18-year-olds. "In the 400 metres I came third and the first person was 18-years-old," she said.
Another successful competitor was Kildare man James Nolan. He secured a bronze in the summer biathlon.
He received a kidney transplant 27 years ago.