Frimley Lodge parkrunner Catriona Riddell made the decision to donate her kidney to a complete stranger.
Catriona tells us more about her remarkable story, including the role parkrun played in helping her recover from the major surgery.
I wanted to share the below photo of me taken at my home parkrun, Frimley Lodge, a few weeks ago.
I got completely drenched and was more than seven minutes slower than my personal best but, as you can probably see from my face, I couldn’t have been happier!
The reason I’m so happy is because this was my first parkrun back after donating one of my kidneys in September.
About nine years ago I tried to donate blood but wasn’t allowed to because of an existing heart condition. This absolutely broke me, it’s in my nature to be quite a giving person so I was upset that I couldn’t give blood and it got me thinking about what else I could do.
In July 2018 I had surgery on my heart and the cardiology ward was right next to the renal ward which made me wonder whether I could donate a kidney.
I got final approval in May 2019 and then in August I found out that I’d be donating into a Long Altruistic Donor Chain in September – this meant that three transplants could take place because of my donation!
On the morning of the surgery I woke up feeling calm and full of purpose, which turned into fear the closer I got to the hospital. But the team were amazing. I woke up a few hours later to find out everything had gone well for both me and my recipient – this was obviously fabulous news, and it made me quite emotional to hear.
After a luxurious six day all inclusive stay in hospital I was sent home with a big bag of painkillers and instructions to take it easy – that’s hard for us runners!
As soon as I felt able, I volunteered to Tail Walk at parkrun and every week I’ve felt better, to the point that I’ve run it for the past two weeks!
parkrun played a pivotal role in my recovery. Those times as Tail Walker helped build my fitness up again. Cheering all my friends on as they zoomed past me, while also being able to encourage those at the back was wonderful.
I donated to a complete stranger and all I know about them is that the surgery was a huge success. I now often wonder at 9am on a Saturday morning if my kidney is lining up at a different parkrun somewhere.
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