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Heart swap tennis player off to World Transplant Games; ANDY WOKE AFTER 10 DAYS TO BE TOLD HE HAD A NEW HEART. NOW HE WANTS TO WIN GOLD.

Byline: JOE THOMAS City Centre Reporter joe.thomas@trinitymirror.com joe_thomas18 @

A TENNIS player who collapsed and woke up 10 days later with a new heart is to take part in the World Transplant Games in South America.

Thirteen years ago, Andy McGarry was a successful junior tennis player, former Centre of Excellence footballer and a tennis coach who was competing in qualifiers for a tennis tournament.

Despite appearing to be the picture of health, he suffered from an undiagnosed heart problem - dilated cardiomyopathy - which took him to the edge of death when, without warning, he suffered an attack.

He said: "I had been competing in the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament, I think it was the first one and I had been playing in the qualifying tournament and just felt terrible. Then, at the end of that week, it happened. I felt ill, I went to lie on the living room floor as we were preparing to go to a friend's wedding. My best mate realised I wasn't too good, took my pulse and rang the paramedics. Ten days later, I woke up with a new heart. It happened on a Friday and I woke up on a Sunday, World Cup Final day - I woke up in sort of a dream with that on TV."

Andy, who grew up in Maghull and now lives in Birkdale, quickly recovered from his operation and was back at work, coaching hopeful stars of the future at Liverpool Tennis Centre within months.

Watch video Watch as prepares games liverpoolecho.co.uk The 36-year-old still plays sport, too and, while he can not quite reach the same levels he attained before his operation, he has competed at several British and World Transplant Games, winning an impressive haul of medals. This week, he flies to Argentina hoping to claim a first gold medal in the tennis singles after being selected by Team GB.

in To Andy, the events serve as a reminder of not just how lucky he was to have had a transplant, but also to have not gone through the same agonising battle to secure a new organ that others have to endure.

WINNERS He said: "It's the games that bring it back, when I see other people who have had transplants it feels a bit more real ... it brings to the fore how important life is and I appreciate it when I see other people who have been really ill - that what happens with transplants is pretty amazing. Hundreds of friends have been through it and didn't think they would be alive much longer. It makes me realise how lucky I am, but also how lucky people are who don't have to live that life."

the." As he prepares for the games, Andy hopes thatAndy for the www.

his achievements can serve as an example to others who are waiting for organ transplants that life can go on after major operations.

Andy, who credits his trainer Ryan Roberts with helping his recovery, also hopes he can encourage people to sign up to the organ donor register and offer those in desperate need the chance to enjoy the new lease of life their generosity can offer.

He said: "Everyone I speak to says they would be an organ donor but in reality the number of people going and filling in the forms is low and to be honest there is a big struggle. At the moment, there are not enough organ donors out there.

"I say imagine if it was your family member, because the only way we are ever going to have enough is by increasing the people on the register." As he heads to Argentina, Andy admits he has his sights set on gold.

But he added: "My biggest reason for going is to show people that life is still fun, and that life can continue. I'm competing in the WTG and BTG as a celebration of what can happen if people register as organ donors. The games shows that at its pinnacle."

For information on joining the |organ donor register, visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk

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Andy wants people to sign up to the organ donor register

Andy McGarry is travelling to Argentina to take part in the World Transplant Games Pictures: ANDREW TEEBAY
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 24, 2015
Words:715
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