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Athlete is a hot shot after his transplant.

Byline: Sara Nichol

LESS than two years ago he was at death's door, in desperate need of a heart transplant.

Now, Kez Greenwood is making his mark in the record books after becoming a European athletics champion.

The 39-year-old beat-off competition from 22 countries in the shot put to win the gold medal at the European Transplant Games, in Vxj|, Sweden.

His victory came nearly two years after Kez who suffered from cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle - was told he had only 48 hours to live. It was then that Kez's luck changed and a donor became available for him to have a vital heart transplant.

Now he is fighting fit and proved he's a force to be reckoned with after throwing the shot put an impressive 10.98m, easily beating the 7m thrown by his nearest competitor. "I travelled to Sweden with my girlfriend Jayne and spent about a week out there as part of the games team representing Great Britain," said Kez, of Hall Farm, Sunderland.

"I was over the moon when I won - I just can't believe that 22 months ago I was told I had hours to live and now I'm winning international athletics competitions.

I train four times a week with my coach Tony Livingston, who's just a fantastic bloke, at the Blaydon Harriers. I'm basically living a fit and normal life and I feel fantastic.

"I had a one-in-a-million chance of catching cardiomyopathy in the first place then I had a 360,000-1 chance of find a heart donor that would match my size as I'm 6ft 4ins.

"So it's an absolute miracle I'm here today and competing in championship competitions. I want to say a big thank you to all the donors out there and their families, because, without them, I would be dead." The European Transplant Games cover a range of sports from athletics events to golf and darts.

Last year, Kez won both the shot put and discus events at the UK Transplant Games and next month, he will try to regain his title at the UK event in Bath.

"If I hold on to my titles, I'll hopefully get selected to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in 2012," added Kez. "That would just be amazing."

In December 2007, Kez was given antibiotics for a chest infection but a few months later he was no better and started coughing up blood.

He was diagnosed with pneumonia in both of his lungs and doctors found he was suffering from cardiomyopathy - a weakening of the heart muscle.

His condition deteriorated and he was admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital before being transferred to Newcastle's Freeman Hospital, where he underwent his transplant. "I was out of hospital and back home after 19 days. It was about four months after I started training with Tony Livingstone and the Blaydon Harriers."

Kez is now preparing for the World Transplant Games in Gothenburg, Sweden, next year where he hopes to take his medal winning to the next level.

TO register as an organ donor, visit www.uktransplant.co.uk or call 0845 606 0400.

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MIRACLE UK Transplant Games discus and shot putt champion Kez Greenwo od
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2010
Words:535
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