A DAD-of-two who owes his life to a heart transplant is preparing for a starring role in this weekend’s British Transplant Games.

Rob Hodgkiss underwent a heart transplant in 1996 after suddenly developing viral cardiomyopathy, a virus which was destroying his heart muscles.

Since his transplant, super-fit Rob has gone on to win a huge haul of medals after regularly competing at European competitions for heart and lung transplant patients.

This will be his first appearance at The British Transplant Games and he is hoping to go for gold in volleyball, swimming (50 metre backstroke) and field events including shot-putt and discuss.

Mr Hodgkiss, who lives in Bromley Cross with his wife Julie and children Bethany, aged 18 and Adam aged 16, now works as a physiotherapist at Bolton Hospice.

At the games he will be representing the Newcastle Freeman Hospital team, which is where he had his life-saving operation.

Talking about the transplant, he said: “I first fell ill while on holiday and eight weeks later I had a new heart. I had basically had a mini-stroke and was put right to the top of the waiting list because of how ill I was.

“I knew I wanted to get back into sport again — I was actually on an exercise bike three days after the operation.”

“Transplant sport events like this weekend are a massive thing for me — I did lots of sport before I was ill and this gives me a chance to keep doing it.”

One of the principle aims of the British Transplant Games is to encourage people to sign the NHS organ donation register.

Mr Hodgkiss said: “It is now been 18 years since my transplant and I think about my donor all the time, it is hard to put into words what it means to me — I would never have known my daughter and my son would not be here.

“Most people would be happy to receive an organ if they need it and if you are prepared to receive one you should be willing to donate — it is also vital that you let your family know your wishes.”