Wrestling fan celebrates five years since transplant by meeting idols

Martin Duggan, centre, with Terri Runnels, left, and Jacqueline Moore, right
Martin Duggan, centre, with Terri Runnels, left, and Jacqueline Moore, right

A kidney transplant recipient met his two favourite female wrestlers to celebrate five years since he had his life-saving operation.

Martin Duggan, 35, spent the weekend with former US professional wrestlers Terri Runnels and Jacqueline Moore at the London Wrestling Convention on June 20 and 21.

In the run up to his kidney transplant in March 2010, the wrestling fan began talking to the WWE champions on social media before setting up their British fan pages.

Terri, who was with WWE from 1996 to 2004, briefly held the hardcore title, while Jacqueline was two times WWE Women’s Champion and one time WWE Cruiserweight Champion.

Fan Mr Duggan, of St Edmunds, Berkhamsted, said: “They were both down to Earth and really lovely. Jacqueline bought me a T shirt from Texas, where she’s from, which said ‘I love Texas’ on it!

“Terri treated me, my dad Andrew and my sister Louise to get into the wrestling convention on the Sunday, and my dad ran us all around London sightseeing.

“They’ve both been a real support to me throughout my journey.”

Mr Duggan was born six weeks premature but it wasn’t until he collapsed at school at the age of 13 and went for tests that it was revealed his kidneys were scarred and of different sizes.

He began dialysis three times a week in May 2008 which left him exhausted.

Three potential donors came forward to help Mr Duggan, including his sister Tabitha, his former partner Denise Whetter and her mother Linda.

Tabitha was found to be a match but Mr Duggan refused to put the youngster through the ordeal.

In a twist of fate, Ms Whetter was found to have a tumour on one of kidneys and had to have it removed, while her mother Linda was not a match.

This meant an agonising wait for Mr Duggan until he got the call on March 19, 2010 to say a match had been found.

He said: “I was jumping about, screaming and crying. I just couldn’t believe it.

Later that night, Mr Duggan had the operation at the Hammersmith Hospital in London.

He said: “All I know about my donor is that her name was Wendy and she was in her 30s. There’s not a day that goes by when she’s not on my mind.

“I’m eternally grateful. I just don’t have the words to express how I feel.

“If it wasn’t for this woman, I wouldn’t be here. There are so many people waiting for organs and you make friends in hospital, then you see them lose their lives. It’s really hard.”

Since his transplant, he has organised two charity nights in aid of Kidney Research UK.