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Marathon dad raises £20k for 20-year 'kidney-versary'


Posted on Friday 1 October 2021
Transplant dad runs Marathon

Emily and Richard Hart

A father who donated his kidney to his daughter more than 20 years ago is fundraising for the hospital which saved her life.

Richard Hart has undertaken two years of charity challenges which will culminate in running the London Marathon this October to raise £20,000 for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.

From a prosecco brunch to bake sales, sponsored trampoline bouncing to the Royal Parks Half-Marathon, Bedford-based Richard has already smashed his fundraising target and is now pounding the pavements in preparation for the iconic run through central London.

He was inspired to raise the money as thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff who have looked after his daughter Emily who was born with kidney failure and transferred to Guy’s Hospital at just five days old.

When she was seven, Emily needed a kidney transplant. After tests confirmed he would be a good match, Richard didn’t hesitate to donate his own organ to save his daughter’s life.

At the time, Richard said doctors hoped Emily’s new kidney might last 10 years. The family will soon mark the 21st anniversary of Emily’s transplant, with the same kidney.

Emily, now 28 and a paediatric nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said the donation – and all Richard’s subsequent fundraising - is “classic my dad”.

She said: “Dad is the most generous, caring person in the whole world. He would do anything for anyone – it’s just in his nature. He said he would donate his kidney to me again if he could.”

Richard, 55, who organises the catering for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said he is “so, so proud” of Emily.

He said: “For the first seven years of her life, Emily didn’t have it easy at all. She had dialysis and then it became apparent she needed a transplant. I was a good match, and I felt giving her my kidney was the natural thing to do.

“Because of the transplant and the great care she has had, Emily has done remarkably well. Her learning was interrupted with appointments, but she got through school, went to college and then to university. Now she’s a children’s nurse.

“I’m so, so proud of her. She takes it all in her stride. Her life has been quite different but she carries on. What she has managed to achieve blows my mind.”

Richard said he was inspired to fundraise for Guy’s and St Thomas’ as Emily approached her two-decade “kidney-versary”.

He said: “For more than 20 years, Guy’s and St Thomas’ have done an amazing job looking after her and helping her with her kidney.

“We are so grateful for the care she has received – amazing people helped her, we’ve been blown away by everyone’s kindness, professionalism, care and frankness at times. We are full of admiration for everything they have done.

“Because of that, I thought – 20 years of a transplant is an amazing achievement. We’re so pleased and grateful. So I wanted to try to raise £20,000 and that’s what I have been doing.”

Richard secured a place on the London Marathon, which was delayed from last year, which kick-started his fundraising feats.

It will be the first time Richard has taken part in the London Marathon, and he has tried to keep up the training momentum since running the Royal Parks Half last October.

He said: “I’m a late starter to running, but I’ve always fancied the London Marathon – running through central London will be dead exciting.”

Emily is now preparing to have another kidney transplant, hopefully later this year.

She said: “I’ve had this kidney now for nearly 21 years, which was never on the radar at the time of my transplant. In some ways it’s sad, but also I’ve been very fortunate.”

You can donate to Richard’s fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/transplant2020

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