'New lungs mean I can carry Torch'

Published: 25 Mar 2012 17:00

A BRAVE sportsman is praying for a double celebration when he carries the Olympic torch through Reading barely two years after receiving a lifesaving lung transplant.

Richard Burbedge will take to the streets with the famous flame on Wednesday, July 11, 10 days after representing Great Britain in the European Heart and Lung Transplant Games in Apeldoorn, Holland.

Richard, from Tilehurst, will compete in volleyball and badminton in the five-day tournament before returning to play his part in the Reading ceremony. But he admits he is "lucky to be alive" because three years ago doctors gave him two years to live after he contracted lung complications caused by the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis.

The 31-year-old IT systems analyst, who lives in Westwood Road, underwent a double lung transplant in June 2010 after a 10 month wait, said: " It's been very exciting but also very humbling. Two years ago I couldn't walk five metres and now I'm going to carry the flame! It's been a whirlwind couple of days with people phoning me up to congratulate me, but if it wasn't for my transplant I might not be here."

Tragically his twin sister Lizi [corr] died from the illness when she was 17 and Richard, a former Little Heath School pupil, who competed in the Transplant Sports UK Volleyball tournament last autumn, representing Harefield Hospital in Middlesex where surgeons operated on him, added: "It's going to be very emotional but I want to do this for other people who have gone through similar things and have not had the same opportunities.

"Two years ago the very simple things like making a cup of tea and tying my shoelaces were absolutely exhausting. But the operation gave me a new lease of life and now I am healthy I want to embrace sport."

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