A BUSINESSWOMAN who owes her life to a liver transplant is running a half marathon to encourage people to become organ donors.
Gwen Lawton-Early, 46, of Kings Head Road, Mirfield, will tackle the famous 13-mile Great North Run, from Newcastle to South Shields, on Sunday September 16.
It will be the first organised run Gwen has taken part in – but she is determined to finish it to publicise a cause close to her heart.
She said: “I want to raise awareness of the importance of people registering as organ donors and carrying a card with them.
“It might sound dramatic, but if it wasn’t for someone doing that, I wouldn’t be here today to be able to run in this race.
“Before my transplant I was told I had two to four years to live, so I’m glad to do anything I can to help other people in that situation.”
As well as publicising organ donation, the mum-of-three will be raising money for the transplant ward at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, where her life-saving operation was carried out in May 2008.
She said: “The treatment and care I received from everyone at St James’s was absolutely fantastic and I owe them an awful lot – so the more I can raise for them the better.”
Gwen, who runs Liversedge-based Cutting Tools Solutions, has been training for the run since last Christmas with the help of her cousin, Anne-Marie McCloughlin.
She said: “Anne-Marie has run the race a few times before so she’s been able to pass on a lot of advice.
“The farthest I’ve done in training so far is eight miles last Saturday, so it’s going to be a big step up to 13.
“I think ‘trepidation’ would be the word for how I’m feeling – you say you’ll do these things and they seem a long way in the future, then all of a sudden it’s upon you!
“I’m getting nervous now but I’m looking forward to it, too.”
Gwen’s transplant made the news when she shared a liver, from a donor in London, with a young child.
She had been suffering for 20 years from primary biliary cirrhosis, which caused the bile ducts in her liver to shrivel up and meant her body was fighting its own tissues.
Gwen has been receiving pledges of support from business customers and her family, including children Emma, 20, Christopher, 19, and Zoe, 17.
She said: “My mam and dad live up in Newcastle, so they’ve been getting sponsorship, and the kids think it’s great that I’m doing it.
“They’re saying they’ll join me if I do the run again next year – but I’ll believe that if I ever see it!”
Gwen has a donation page at www.justgiving.com/gwen-lawton--early.