A GROUP of cyclists have completed the first stop of their 500-mile ‘Transplant Tour’ at the Freeman Hospital’s Institute of Transplantation to raise awareness of living kidney donation.
On Day One of Organ Donation Week, a team of living donors and transplant recipients cycled 138 miles from Edinburgh to Newcastle and were greeted by North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll, and the Trust’s Chairman Professor Sir John Burn.
The tour aims to raise £20,000 for Give a Kidney, a charity that promotes awareness of non-directed kidney donation – where someone donates one of their two healthy kidneys anonymously to someone on the NHS transplant waiting list.
They were met by a crowd including members of Tyneside Kidney Patients Association – all of whom are kidney transplant recipients – who received their team baton, symbolising the giving and receiving of a kidney.
Dennis Carver of Funraising Tours, who previously donated a kidney to a stranger, has organised the charity cycle.
“As a living donor, I knew I couldn’t donate another kidney, so I have drawn on my previous experience in organising long-distance charity cycle rides to raise funds for Give a Kidney and promote awareness,” he said.
“I also want to show others that it is very possible to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle after donating one of your kidneys.”
Helen Dobson, regional lead for kidney transplantation and the trust’s abdominal team lead (live) transplant co-ordinator, said: “A kidney transplant can transform the life of someone with kidney disease, whether or not they are already having dialysis treatment, and altruistic donation is increasing.
“Volunteering to offer a kidney is a wonderful thing to do and we receive lots of interest about this but it is also an important decision with lots of things to consider. The Transplant Tour is a fantastic way to raise awareness and it was lovely to welcome the cyclists to the Freeman site.”
Among those receiving the baton from Tyneside KPA were David Errington, Joyce and Ian Gill, John Lau and Jane Miller.
Jan Shorrock, Executive Officer of Give a Kidney, said: “As a small charity we are extremely grateful to this group of cyclists and to everyone who helps to raise awareness of living kidney donation. There are currently more than 5,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant in the UK, and around 250 people die each year in need of a kidney transplant.
“Humans only need one kidney so if more healthy people came forward to give theirs, more lives could be saved. In the UK almost 1000 people have donated a kidney to someone they do not know and we hope to encourage more people to consider sharing their spare! We wish all the cyclists on the Transplant Tour every success in their tough challenge.”
The Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “You’re doing such a fantastic job in raising awareness – and having met the cyclists today I am in awe of their alturism to give other people a chance of life.”
Trust chairman Professor Sir John Burn added: “We’re enormously proud of this facility and were delighted to welcome the cyclists on the first stop of their journey and to say a huge thank you for all you’re doing.”
The Transplant Tour will finish in Oxford.