Kidney donor dad takes on toughest challenge yet

Last updated: Tuesday, 01 August 2023

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Godfrey, centre, with Paul Taylor, left, and Geoff Denham, right

A dad who donated his kidney to his son has completed a 250 mile bike ride to raise money for Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

Godfrey Haire was inspired to tackle the gruelling North Downs and South Downs by bike after his family attended the British Transplant Games last year. The annual event brings together patients from different hospital teams to compete in 25 different sports

Evelina London, supported by Evelina London Children’s Charity, sends a team of kidney transplant patients to take part each year. They are known as the Evelina VIPs (short for Very Important Penguins, which refers to the hospital’s urology and kidney department, Penguin clinic).

Godfrey’s eldest son, Henry, took part in several events in 2022 including table tennis, long jump and badminton, for which he received a bronze medal. The family of four – including mum Rebecca, and youngest son, Thomas, 10 - took part in the 5K Donor Run, which raises awareness of the benefits of transplantation and pays tribute to organ donors.

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Godfrey, 46, said: “It’s such a special event for the whole family as you meet so many others who are going through a similar experience to you. The resilience that the children have is more than most grown adults.

“I really wanted to fundraise as many families wouldn’t be able to attend unless they received funding."

Henry, now 13 years old, has been under Evelina London’s care since birth. He was born with a rare condition called posterior urethral valve (PUV). Children with PUV have a blockage in the tube which runs from the bladder to the outside, which causes urine to reflux back up to the kidneys, causing renal failure.

Henry has had around 60 surgeries and his first kidney was removed at Evelina London on his first birthday. His second kidney was functioning at around 15 per cent, but this reduced over time, and two years ago the situation became critical.

Godfrey recalled: “We knew Henry would need a transplant at some point and I was a perfect match, so it was just a matter of time. You don’t think twice but it was a weird thing to go through and it was tough being separate from Henry and his brother while I was recovering.”

Godfrey was joined by his friends Paul Taylor and Geoff Denham on his 250 mile cycle challenge which took place over two weekends, finishing on 8 July.  

He says the North Downs leg was the hardest ride he’s ever done – and it didn’t help that he completed his training on an e-bike, as his normal bike was being repaired.

Godfrey, who lives in Merstham in Surrey, said: “The 32C heat was insane. We were drinking so much water and did three days of 10 hours a day on the bikes.”

Sadly Henry was unable to go to this year’s Transplant Games, which will took place in Coventry last weekend, as he is recovering from a knee operation. But he’s determined to return to the start line next year.

Grainne Walsh, an advanced nurse practitioner in the Evelina London transplant team, said: “The Transplant Games are the highlight of the year for our children with transplants and their families, bringing them together for a supportive, fun event. It gives every member of the family the invaluable opportunity to have fun and forget about their, or their loved one’s, condition for a few days.

“We will really miss Henry this year, but we are so grateful that Godfrey is fundraising to help other families.”

To sponsor Godfrey, visit Godfrey Haire's JustGiving page.

For more information about organ donation and to record your organ donation decision, visit NHS Organ Donation.

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