Kevin Mashford has spent his life battling the effects of congenital heart disease. Just a year on from a heart transplant and inspired by the memory of his donor he’s getting ready to cycle 54 miles from London to Brighton.
In May 2013 I had a heart transplant. The transplant was my seventh major heart operation in 36 years.
I was born with a ‘hole in the heart’ and had to have my first operation at eight years old. During surgery, doctors found I was actually suffering from a rare heart condition called congenitally corrected transposition of the greater arteries (CCGTA). I wasn’t expected to survive the night.
Somehow I pulled through and after that first operation I was able to live a semi-normal life; in particular I took up karate and became a black belt by the time I was 17. However as time went on and I required more surgery, I was forced to give up karate and sports in general.
Over the next 15 years I was in and out of hospital as my condition deteriorated and from my early twenties I was in heart failure. In 2012 I was told I would need a new heart.
I have always been an optimistic person, never letting my condition hold me back in life. I had married, had two wonderful children, set up my own business and travelled. Even a year later, when I was released from hospital to sort out my affairs and spend time with my family, I just didn’t feel it was my time. And then, in May, a match was found.
I found out my donor was a cyclist who lost his life while out on his bike. His decision to join the organ donor register and his family’s consent has allowed me to experience lots of incredible things I could only have dreamed of before my transplant. I now have his name inside my helmet so that every time I am out on my bike I remember him. This Sunday will be no different.
54 miles is further than I’ve ever ridden on my bike before. Training has been tough; it’s only a year since my transplant and I’ve had to battle kidney failure along the way. The London to Brighton Bike Ride is going to be a challenge but I’m determined to do it at my own pace. I want to raise awareness for children and parents of children with congenital heart disease and show that it should not be something that rules your life. I also want to encourage people to join the organ donation register and speak to their next of kin about their wishes. Organ donation saves lives.
See you at the finish line!