A FATHER who had a heart transplant less than a year ago will attempt to cycle along Hadrian’s Wall to raise money for the hospital that carried out the operation.
David Gibbs, 57, of Belton-in-Rutland, will cycle 84 miles along the wall on Tuesday and Wednesday, as his son James Gibbs and nephew Ed Straker run alongside him.
James, 21, a broker in London, and Ed, 19, a student from Northumberland, are raising money for Papworth Hospital, where David had a heart transplant in June last year.
David, who is married to Marcia, is aiming to raise awareness of the importance of organ donors.
He said: “I can’t pretend the cycle ride is going to be easy but when James and Ed told me what they were going to do, I thought that’s an incredible achievement and something to get involved in.
“I would say if there’s anyone worried about becoming a donor, just look at what a difference it can make to someone’s life.
“I haven’t felt as well in 20 years.”
David, who works as a pension funds manager in London, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, in 1990 during a medical check.
In 1993, he was fitted with a pacemaker to control the disease, which was causing an abnormal heart rhythm.
However, in December, 2006, David suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed in London as he walked to work.
His life was saved by two passing policemen but he then had to be fitted with an internal defibrillator, which shocks the heart when it goes into cardiac arrest to reset the heartbeat.
David was rushed into hospital in March last year when the defibrillator was unable to control the amount of times he was having a heart attack.
He was in and out of hospital until he was taken to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge on May 7, where he remained until having the heart transplant on June 16.
David, who is also father to Harriet, 21, and Emily-Rose, 25, said: “The heart transplant went well and the hospital were unbelievably good and the staff become like a second family.
“It is obviously a cause close to my heart, so to speak.”
Before the transplant, David said he was constantly tired, breathless and had no energy, but now has a new lease of life.
He said: “It was really bad but I can’t begin to describe how much better I feel. I think the cycle ride will still be a challenge for me.”
Although committed to the ride, David said he will stop if it all gets too much.
David plans to write to the donor’s family, via the hospital’s liaison team, in June - a year after the transplant.
Since David’s transplant, members of his family, including James, have been inspired to join the organ donor register.
Between April 1 last year and March 31 this year there were 131 heart transplants in the UK.
To sponsor them visit www.bmycharity.com/V2/jamesanded runhadrianswall or to join the organ donor register visit www.uktransplant.org.uk