Two sporty brothers from Huddersfield could be going head-to-head at the Transplant Games - but only in the popular pub pastime of darts.
Mark Brown and his younger brother James, who have both undergone kidney transplants, enjoy a bit of sibling rivalry and are hoping to face one another at the British Transplant Games in Liverpool.
Last year they came up against each other in the darts when Mark easily beat James, but as darts is the only open-age category they won’t meet in any other discipline.
Mark, 49, a former Greenhead College student, will be competing in his fourth Transplant Games, which opens in Liverpool on July 28.
He suffered from the hereditary condition Alports Syndrome, which led to kidney failure at the age of 25. He had a successful kidney transplant in 1994 at St James’ University Hospital in Leeds.
Mark said: “It was scary when I got the call to say a transplant was available, my condition was stable and, though now a routine operation for the specialists involved, still not without risk.
“Thankfully it’s now 22 years since my transplant, and it’s still going strong.
“I’ve represented the hospital by participating in the British Transplant Games for the past few years in Sheffield and Bolton winning medals in the 100m, bowls, darts and archery, and a surprise gold in basketball at the games in Newcastle & Gateshead last year.
“I’ve been fortunate to represent my country at a number of Winter World Transplant Games, winning medals in ski-ing, snowboarding and curling.”
Mark said he enjoyed taking on James, 38, who lives in Salendine Nook and had a kidney transplant 11 years ago, suffering from the same condition.
“There’s a bit of sibling rivalry between us – we came up against each other in the third round of the darts competition last year, and he won’t thank me for saying that I breezed past him before losing in the final.
“This was a real family affair as my mum and dad (Lindley residents Joan and Roger) came to watch, with my dad scoring the match, and my wife Jo who runs the charity Transplant Sport, cheering me on.
“We’re competing in the darts again this year – hopefully meeting in the final!
“I’m also hoping to do well in the archery, golf, lawn bowls and discus this year.
I’ve never tried the discus before, but James and I said we’d give it a go to see who can get the furthest between us.”
One of the aims of the Transplant Games is to showcase the benefits of transplantation.
Every 10 minutes, somebody’s name gets added to the donor waiting list and three people die daily because they can’t get the organ they need.
Over 6,000 people in the UK are currently waiting for a transplant, but with only 34% of the UK population actually registered as organ donors, the NHS Organ Donor Register team says more work needs to be done to raise awareness of donation and to urge those on the register to share their wishes with loved ones.
To add your name to the NHS Organ Donor register, call 0300 1232323, text SAVE to 62323 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk