A Bradford man who received a life-saving liver transplant will this Saturday (April 16) take part in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge as a ‘thank you’ to the hospital staff who cared for him.
Nick McDonald, 52, is competing in the gruelling 26-mile hike to show his appreciation for the teams at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, where he receives treatment and care, and St James’ Hospital, in Leeds, where he underwent the operation in February 2014.
The dad-of-four, from Clayton Heights, will also be raising vital funds for the British Liver Trust which supports patients like himself who went into liver failure after contracting Hepatitis C many years earlier.
Help C is a blood-borne virus and predominantly infects the cells of the liver. If left untreated it can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer and death.
Nick explained: “I was just 17-years-old, when I received a blood transfusion in Germany following a motorcycle accident. I didn’t realise it at the time, but through no fault of my own, the blood was contaminated and I was left with a serious liver condition called Hepatitis C.
“After more than 20 years, my liver started to deteriorate and cirrhosis set in. Over a three-to-five year period, I tried a number of different medical treatments from the wonderful hepatology team at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI), but my old liver was just not working and I needed a transplant to survive.
“I consider myself the luckiest person alive because on the day I was signed up to the transplant list, within just four hours, another wonderful team at St James’ Hospital Leeds swapped my old liver for a new one. I’ll be forever grateful to the person who donated their liver to me – I just happened to be a perfect match and in the right place at the right time.
“I’m taking part in this weekend’s Three Peaks Challenge to say thank you to everyone who saved my life from the donor to the hospital teams, and the British Liver Trust whose invaluable patient information always put my mind at rest.”
Following his transplant, Nick regained his fitness to the point today where he feels fit enough to hike 26 miles over the three highest Yorkshire peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – with a combined height of 7,064 feet – in under 12 hours. The peaks form part of the Pennine range, and encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
He’ll be accompanied by his partner Annette Essex (who works as a dermatology research sister at St Luke’s Hospital) and 10 colleagues from Kluber Lubrication GB Limited where Nick works as a sales representative.
Nick added: “Although Hep C is always there in the background, I feel I have been given a new lease of life. I am now on a new course of drugs which are having a positive effect and I have been Hep C free for the last four months.
“Taking part in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is me saying thank you to both teams at both the BRI and St James’. My only concern now is to look after the precious gift that I have been given and to raise as much money for the British Liver Trust as I can through the Three Peaks Challenge.”
Consultant hepatologist, Dr Paul Southern, said: “Nick is a shining example of how the lives of very sick patients can be transformed after transplantation. He really is seizing his second chance at life and we are delighted to see his amazing recovery.
“We are incredibly grateful for Nick’s support and his fundraising for the British Liver Trust which is a charity who provide our patients with information, support and care.
“I would like to wish him, his partner Annette and his colleagues, the best of luck for the Three Peaks Challenge and thank him once again for his generous words and much welcomed support.”
You can sponsor Nick via www.justgiving.com/nick-mcdonald2/