Birmingham transplant recipient lacing up for British Games

Posted on June 18th 2019

PRESS RELEASE: A Birmingham mum who had a double lung transplant last year is preparing to take part in a national sporting competition in Wales.

Michelle Hemmings, 47, from Perry Barr, will compete in a 1.8-mile walking event at the Westfield Health British Transplant Games on Saturday 27 July, to raise awareness of organ donation and thank the team that saved her life.

Michelle lived with the rare disease pulmonary hypertension for 21 years before receiving a double lung transplant at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge in February 2018.

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a serious lung and heart disease affecting just 7,000 people in the UK. There is no cure and if patients don’t respond to treatment, they may undergo a lung and / or heart transplant.

Michelle, who has a 23-year-old daughter, said: “Before my transplant, I could only manage to walk for two or three minutes, carrying oxygen. It was hard to go out and about. But now, I don’t have to carry oxygen, I can breathe unaided, and I can walk for up to an hour with regular short breaks.

“I’d heard about the Games and I always thought it could be me one day. They were in Birmingham last year, but I wasn’t well enough, so I’m really excited to be able to be part of them this summer.

“I want to use them to tell my story and raise awareness in all communities about the importance of organ donation.”

The Westfield Health British Transplant Games are being sponsored by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA UK), the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting people affected by pulmonary hypertension .

Iain Armstrong, chair of the PHA UK, said: “Michelle is a fantastic example of someone making the most of life after transplant and she is giving hope to everyone affected by pulmonary hypertension – as well as helping to raise awareness of this serious disease and the importance of organ donation. We wish her and the other participants all the luck in the world for this year’s competitions.”

Symptoms of PH typically involve breathlessness, fatigue, black-outs and swelling around the ankles, arms and stomach. PH affects the ability to carry out basic tasks and get around.

More than 60 transplant teams from across the UK are expected to take part in the Westfield Health British Transplant Games, which are held every year.

The PHA UK, based in Sheffield, is also sponsoring the World Transplant Games, which are being held in Newcastle in August.

Notes to editor

Image shows Michelle Hemmings.

A video showing Michelle talking about taking part in the Games can be viewed here

Michelle is using her walking challenge to raise money for the Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Charity. You can sponsor via her Go Fund Me page here:

She is also organising a black-tie ball for the charity in September. Full details can be found here:

Media contact: Mary Ferguson on 01226 766900 or at

About pulmonary hypertension (PH)

People can be born with PH or develop it at any time and it can affect anyone, regardless of age or ethnic background. It affects more women than men.

Adult patients with PH are treated at seven specialist centres across the UK. Children with the disease are treated at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London. 

The seven adult specialist PH centres in the UK are within the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle; Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow; Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield; Papworth Hospital NHS Trust in Cambridgeshire; and Hammersmith Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital and Royal Free Hospital in London.

For further information about pulmonary hypertension visit, call the PHA UK office on 01709 761450 or e-mail  

PHA UK is a registered charity no: 1120756

About the Westfield Health British Transplant Games

Running for over 40 years, The Westfield Health British Transplant Games are a celebration of life.

Taking place in different host cities every summer, the games see teams from hospitals across the UK come together to compete in a medley of sports. The four-day event attracts around 1000 transplant athletes and more than 1500 supporters.