Founder of The Transplant Association, Kevin Mashford, was given less than six months to live after a lifetime of hospital visits, medication and major operations for his heart defect. He was told his only option would be to have a heart transplant. Put on the urgent waiting list in 2012 at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, Kevin waited 12 months for a match. On the May 4th 2013 he received the news he had been waiting for. A donor had been found just in time.
Even whilst still on a ventilator and in Intensive care his thoughts turned to his donor and his family. Kevin found out his donor died in a cycling accident and just seven days after surgery Kevin asked for an exercise bike in his room, to honour his donor.
From then he has campaigned tirelessly to get people on the organ donor register. Just 19 weeks after his heart transplant, Kevin completed a 30 mile cycle sportive, and has gone on to complete the London to Brighton 54 miles and has competed at the Transplant Games in cycling.
On January 1st this year he opened the registration to the Team Mash ride from Bristol to Newcastle. Fifty riders have signed up to do the full ride but many more have signed up as ‘virtual riders’ to get involved without having to get on a bike.
“For me, post-transplant, there was no way I could have done a mile one a bike let alone over three hundred. Signing up as a virtual rider means you can still be part of the event by doing 342 of whatever you like”, Kevin told Bristol-Sport.co.uk.
The entrants will be cycling 342 miles, from Ashton Gate the home of Bristol City FC and Bristol RFC to The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle over four days.
“I have always been a keen Bristol Rugby and Bristol City supporter and with the new stadium taking shape, I thought it would be a great place to start our journey, I’m so pleased Bristol Sport has got behind me to help this happen.”
The aim of the ride is to encourage people to sign up as an organ donor and to raise funds for The Transplant Association.
“Having a transplant is a huge life changing event not only for patients but their families too, so we want to make sure nurses have enough funding to signpost people that are struggling. I had a lifetime of heart disease to prepare myself for transplant but some people who are really fit and well, and suddenly get heart problems, can find it very hard to accept.”
To donate or to sign up to ride or as a virtual rider click here.