A PHYSIOTHERAPIST who was given the gift of life is to embark on an epic challenge to mark the 25th anniversary of his life-changing heart transplant during Organ Donation Week
Robert Hodgkiss, aged 55, is aiming to cover 250km during the week, from September 20-26, by walking 25km and rowing 25 km, taking 25,000 steps during a 20km distance, cycling for 180km as well as lifting 25,000kg of weights.
A lifelong Bolton Wanderers fan, Robert, who works at the Royal Bolton Hospital, starts off his challenge on Sunday, walking 25km from Bromley Cross to the UniBol stadium, the home of his beloved Wanderers, and back.
Robert said: “The main aim is to promote the need for organ donation and increase the chances of the thousands still waiting for a transplant to have the same chance that I’ve had for the gift of life.
“We now have a presumed consent law for organ donation in England, however, it is vital that people discuss their wishes with family as the family still have to agree to donation and every year scores of potential donors are lost because their families didn’t know their wishes and declined donation.”
Robert needed a transplant due to cardiomyopathy caused by an inherited faulty gene, with his father dying just before Robert was born due to the same condition.
At the time of his transplant he was a dentist living in Newcastle but had to give up his career due to hand tremors, a side effect of his immunosuppressant medication.
He retrained as a physiotherapist at Salford University and has worked for the NHS in Bolton since qualification, spending 14 years based at Bolton Hospice and now works in the community therapy service.
Robert has a keen interest in fitness and competition, winning medals at multiple transplant games events including five gold medals at the last European transplant games held in Italy, 2018.
He added: “With all transplant sports events being cancelled during the last two years due to Covid-19, planning this challenge has given me a goal as well as highlighting the need for organ donation.”
According to NHS Organ Donation service, someone dies waiting for an organ transplant every day, because there just aren’t enough organ donors. There are currently around 5,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the UK.
One organ donor can save or transform up to nine lives. Talk to your loved ones and #LeaveThemCertain of your organ donation decision. Find out by visiting https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/