On Friday Kevin Mashford, one of our club members, starts an incredible 342 cycle ride from Bristol's Ashton Gate stadium to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. The ride aims to encourage people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor register as well as to raise funds for The Transplant Association charity. Why? Because of Kevin's own experiences.
On 14th September 2012 Kevin - himself a Shotokan Karate black belt - watched his son take his first class at the club. At the end of the class, when asked if he wants to join his son next time he said that he would love to, however he had troubles with his heart, which meant that this wouldn't be possible.
The reality: Kevin had suffered from multiple organ failure and after 6 major heart operations was facing final stage heart failure. Kevin was on the organ donation waiting list, hoping for a match.
On 4th May 2013 Kevin had a heart transplant thanks to the amazing work of surgeon Asif Hassan at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital and the generosity of his donor, John, who had signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.
4 months and 23 days later Kevin walked into the Backwell Karate dojo in a karategi - and after a 20 year break - trained alongside his son.
In honour of his donor who was a keen cyclist Kevin decided he wanted to do something to say thank you. Just 7 days after his operation he jumped on an exercise bike and cycled for 7 minutes. Now - just two years on from his operation - Kevin begins his mammoth ride from South West to North East along with other members of Team Mash.
Earlier this year Kevin's story started to appear in mainstream media, with articles appearing regionally on the cover of the Bristol Post and nationally in The Times, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. He talked about his story on the regional BBC Points West and also on Channel 5 news.
On 5th February this year, Radio 2 DJ and new host to the BBC's Top Gear Chris Evans signed up to the organ donor register after reading Kevin's story and having talked about it on his radio show.
Kevin's story is an amazing triumph of positivity in the face of adversity and we're proud to have him as a member at the club.
If you're inspired by Kevin's story please sign up to the Organ Donor register or make a donation to The Transplant Association using Kevin's fund raising page. You can follow his progress by visiting the Team Mash Facebook page.
|Kevin's BT MyDonate fundraising page|
|Join the NHS Organ Donor Register|