Family Put Their Surgery Girl on a Right Track

Article excerpt

Byline: NEIL SEARS

STUDENT Leann McKee will claim an historic victory even before she takes off her tracksuit at the Millennium Transplant Games.

Regardless of how she performs in her chosen events - dry-slope skiing, the three-kilometre walk, driving skills and tenpin bowling - Leann has booked her place in the record books.

For, after lifesaving surgery last year, Leann, from Ayr, will become the first recipient of lung transplants from living, related donors to take part in the Games.

Although her entire family are wishing her luck, father David, 42, and uncle Robert, 38, will be lending their particular support as Leann competes at Gateshead - because they each donated part of a lung to save her life.

Two years ago 21-year-old Leann thought it was a day she might never see.

She was desperately awaiting a transplant. Help came in the form of her father and uncle who each sacrificed about 20 per cent of their lung tissue for the operation at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.

Leann, who suffered from cystic fibrosis, was only the third person in Britain to receive a lung transplant from living relatives. Now, if she can achieve victory this weekend, she could represent Britain at the World Transplant Games in Japan next year. Last night, she was appearing in the opening ceremony of the national contest, which is to feature 662 athletes who have all received lifesaving transplants. …