Darren Smith, aged 46 was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2008 when his daughter was just two weeks old. He struggled for a long time to get his condition under control, whilst trying to hold down a full-time job as well as being a dad to his young family.
Darren went on to develop the secondary condition Primary Schlerosing Cholangitis in 2012. Initially,Darren experienced no new symptoms, but sadly his condition started to deteriorate at the end of 2015, resulting in an assessment for transplant. Darren spent much of this year in hospital, saying: “It got to the point where I could barely join in family activities, I was just about holding down my job as a Software Engineer, eating, sleeping, and not much else.”
In December 2016, Darren was placed on the urgent liver transplant list. He said: “I was lucky in that I only waited for 11 days until a donor liver was found, which was shared between me and a child who was also desperately in need.”
Since his transplant, Darren has worked incredibly hard to return to the high level of fitness that he had before he became ill, as he was always a keen sportsman, coaching at his children’s swimming and triathlon clubs.
At the British Transplant Games in 2018, Darren won a bronze and two silver medals representing QEHB in freestyle swimming events, and was also selected for the mixed relay squad. As a result of these amazing efforts, Darren has been selected to compete for Great Britain & Northern Ireland in the World Transplant Games in 2019.
Darren said: “I am determined to do myself, my donor and all of the people who have supported me, proud. I’ve been working really hard to train and get fit, and I’ve joined a group of swimmers who regularly compete at a national level, and we’re coached by a former European masters medallist.”
Darren’s training regime means that he wakes up at 4:20am, to fit in his swimming, gym work and physiotherapy.
On top of all the training, Darren is a strong believer in sport for all, and has returned to coaching at the children’s triathlon club where he recently won the coveted ‘Coach of the Year’ award, and he has just qualified as an assistant coach for the local swimming club.
His children, aged 13 and 10 are just as passionate about sport at their dad!
Darren has set up a JustGiving page, where you can follow his training process. Click here to find out more.