A WOMAN who seemed close to death six years ago is the first double-lung transplant patient to sail across the Atlantic.

Justine Laymond, 39, climbed aboard the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital yacht to embark on a journey of a lifetime.

Justine, from Broomfield, is taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.

On board she was greeted by fellow transplant patient Nick Barclay and a 20-strong crew at North Cove Marina in Manhattan.

The journey takes in Nova Scotia, Ireland and the Netherlands, before returning to Southampton on July 22 for the race end.

Justine and Nick are two of the team of transplant patients, surgeons and specialist nursing staff who have been brought together by Professor Steven Wigmore, professor of transplantation surgery and the clinical lead for transplants at the University of Edinburgh.

The team has taken up the challenge to push the message around the world of how organ donation can transform lives.

Justine said: “I’m so excited about joining the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew in New York. Every year, I set myself a goal and taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race is most certainly going to be the pinnacle of my life achievements.

“The race is going to test me mentally and physically, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Justine was diagnosed with a condition commonly known as LAM, eight years ago.

The condition, which she developed in her 20s, caused her lungs to collapse 15 times, which resulted in her being in a coma for three weeks.

After a 16-month wait and three false alarms, as well as having to learn to walk all over again, Justine was found a suitable lung donor and underwent a double-lung transplant in 2006.

Professor Wigmore said: “Transplantation is completely dependent on people’s generosity, whether a living donor or deceased donor. We can’t do transplants without donors.

“Justine is the perfect example of how organ donation can not only save a person’s life, but can significantly improve their quality of life. It’s wonderful to see her joining the crew in New York.”