Transplant patient Justine Laymond takes on yacht race
AFTER surviving a double-lung transplant, Justine Laymond is taking part in a round-the-world yacht race.
Justine, 39, from Broomfield, was diagnosed with LAM, or lymphangioleiomyomatosis, eight years ago.
The condition, which she developed in her 20s, meant her lungs collapsed 13 times and she was in a coma for three weeks before being hooked up to a life support machine.
After a 16-month wait and three false alarms, as well as having to learn to walk again, a suitable lung donor was eventually found for Justine and she underwent a double lung transplant.
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She said: "Because of that donor, I have been given a gift and I intend to make the most of every second of it."
And now, having never sailed before, Justine has been selected as a transplant ambassador – and the first double lung transplantee – to take part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.
The race is a 40,000-mile round-the-world adventure that involves a fleet of 10 68-foot yachts.
Anyone can apply to take part in the race and those selected must undergo intense training.
It is divided in to a series of eight legs and crews can decide which ones to race.
This year, organisers recruited a team of 10 transplant ambassadors, who are each doing a different leg of the Clipper 11-12.
Justine is one of four transplantees, the other three of which are kidney transplantees, and six transplant doctors who are taking part to raise awareness of organ donation.
"I found out that no one in the world has ever done this before who has had a double lung transplant so hopefully I will give inspiration to other people – not just transplantees, but anyone who is ill," said Justine.
"For me it's literally about getting back in one piece."
Since her transplant, Justine has decided to challenge herself as much as possible, taking on new sports and, as a result competing and winning gold in the British Transplant Games.
Because of her sporting achievements, she was also selected as a sports ambassador for Chelmsford borough council, where Justine represents the district at community events.
But yacht race is something that would be the pinnacle of Justine's achievements.
"If I'm honest, my parents were quite scared. They thought this would be too much for me to achieve," said Justine.
Setting off on June 2 and staying at sea for seven weeks, working four-hour watches, it will be a tough challenge for Justine, who faces a continuous battle with health problems.
She said: "Every year that I'm alive, I set myself a goal, a challenge and something to achieve.
"It's going to test me mentally and physically but I know this is the last chance I'll get to do something like this. I know that things may change. It's probably the craziest thing I have ever done."
Starting from New York, the 20-person crew will set off on their 4,000-mile journey to Nova Scotia, Ireland and to the Netherlands, before returning to Southampton on July 22.
Justine will have to take two months worth of pills on the yacht, named Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, and suffers from sea sickness, which is something her doctors are concerned about, but she is adamant she will not let that worry her.
"I have battled with death over and over again. I still have problems now but life is not forever."
She added: "It's going to be six years since my operation when I'm at sea so it's going to be quite an emotional time. I can't even imagine how it will be when I get back to England."
You can follow Justine's progress at her blog, www.justinedoublelungs.blogspot.com and sponsor her at www.justgiving.com/justine-laymond1.