A CANCER patient is making remarkable progress five months after undergoing a multi-organ transplant similar to the pioneering surgery that Steve Prescott had in the months before he died.

Steve underwent a 32-hour operation three weeks before his death at the age of 39 in November 2013. His pancreas, duodenum, small bowel and stomach wall were transplanted at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital.

The former rugby league player, who became a beacon of inspiration for the way he fought the disease, pseudomyxoma peritonei, a rare form of abdominal cancer, was aware he may not survive the transplant or the recovery – but believed he could improve the prospects of patients with the same illness.

This week, mother-of-one Claire Place, 46, who was diagnosed with pseudomyxoma in 2011, travelled over to St Helens to meet Steve’s wife Linzi and to be the official starter of the inaugural St Helens Triathlon.

BBC cameras were there to film their emotional meeting, meaning vast national and regional exposure for the charitable foundation that Steve founded.

Speaking to the Star, Linzi, said: “We have to be happy that Steve has led the way for other people with pseudomyxoma to have a viable option. Claire is the first success story and we know other people have had this surgery since Claire, so hopefully it will keep Stephen’s legacy going.”

Claire, from Colchester, underwent the same initial operation to remove cancerous abdominal tumours as Steve at Basingstoke after her diagnosis, and had continued to have chemotherapy. She had enquired about a small bowel transplant but was initially told it wasn’t an option – however, after learning of Steve’s story, she pushed for the transplant and was put under the same surgical team in Oxford.

Linzi added: “I became aware she had the transplant at Easter after her husband sent a tweet to the SPF Twitter account. I got in touch with him and tried to offer support as I’d been through the same situation and we became quite close friends even though we hadn’t met.

“It was fantastic to see Claire and how well she is looking.

When Stephen was diagnosed he changed the type of person he was. He was helped so much by the general public and the rugby league community that he wanted to help others.

“Before his transplant we had a conversation and I said: ‘You do realise this might not be successful’ and he said: ‘If it’s not successful for me and they learn from it and it helps other patients, then I have done my job’."