Clare's swimathon is a prelude to transplant games
Clare Purkiss and coach Ash Tuck poolside at the David Lloyd Emersons Green sports club
WHEN Clare Purkiss was diagnosed with kidney disease she thought she might never be able to swim again.
But since a successful transplant not only has Clare returned to the pool, she has raised £1,400 with a distance event – and is now aiming to take part in the British Transplant Games.
Clare, of Lyde Green, was diagnosed at the age of 21.
She said: "It came out of the blue, as I had been perfectly healthy up to then.
"I was told that within five years I would either need dialysis or a transplant."
Clare had to wait until her condition had reached the stage where a transplant would have the greatest benefit, as medication to suppress the body's immune response limits the time a donated organ lasts to around 15 to 20 years.
She received a kidney from her mother, who was found to be a match, in an operation at Southmead Hospital.
This year Clare, a civil servant, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her transplant – her "kidneyversary" - and is set to compete in the 50m, 100m and 200m front crawl contests at the British Transplant Games in Leeds.
Clare said: "When I was younger I was a massive swimmer, and when I was diagnosed I thought it would be something I wouldn't be able to do again.
"Since the transplant I've been able to get back into the pool and swim."
To raise money and awareness for charity Kidney Research UK, Clare and her coach Ash Tuck, of Kinetic Sports, organised a swimathon relay at the David Lloyd Emersons Green sports club on March 12.
They aimed to swim 2,640 lengths of the centre's outdoor 25m pool to represent the 66km distance of two English Channel crossings.
In the end Clare, Ash and a team of swimmers chalked up a total of 3,000 lengths, or 75km, with Clare swimming 120 and Ash doing 180.
Clare is a member of the David Lloyd club and deputy manager Tom McEwen helped arrange the event, with many members taking part once they heard about the cause.
Clare said: "We were incredibly lucky to have about 25 to 30 swimmers taking part, including some of the children who were there for their swimming lessons.
"Some of our incredible swimmers put in some massive distances and we were able to complete the challenge in five and a half hours, having expected to be there all day."
For more information on Kidney Research UK visit kidneyresearchuk.org online.