A WIDNES athlete who can only breathe thanks to a stranger has won a double gold medal and a silver at the European Heart and Lung Transplant Games in Luthuania.

Halton Council media officer, Mark Allen, aged 42, who received a double lung transplant in 2005, represented Great Britain in the singles and doubles in table tennis, petanque and shot put.

Despite only have 20 per cent of the lung capacity of a normal person, he defies doctors with his determination.

He goes to the gym, swims and plays table tennis to keep fit and has been a European champion for the last six years.

Mark, of Deirdre Avenue, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, said: "If you get hundreds of athletes and supporters with their country's flag and signs up saying they are living with donated hearts and lungs it really has an effect.

"It is great to win medals but there are people who train every day, just to be fit enough to attend. And there are people who will die this month on the transplant list..

"The European Games are much more friendly than the British ones. There are no egos. It is great to see friends from other countries I only see once every two years.

Mark won the golds in the overall doubles and age group doubles in table tennis and the silver in the singles.

He received £150 from Halton Council's sports development fund last year towards his competitions.

The Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association helps competitors with travel costs but they fund the rest themselves.

Mark's next competition is the British Transplant Games in Bolton next month.

He is urging people to join the NHS donor register by visiting organdonation.nhs.uk.