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From 'Rome to the Dome' to 'The Transplant Tour'
Dennis Carver was a part of the cleaning industry community for more than 30 years and in that time worked for a number of companies including Brightwell Dispensers where he spent the last 10 of those years before turning his attention to other things.
One thing he did do outside of this was organise charity cycle rides, of the long-distance kind. Most notable was Rome to the Dome in 2001, when he was joined my Mark Woodhead of Selden Research, and supported through sponsorship by many of his friends and colleagues in the industry. The 28 riders he recruited raised more than £64,000 for Leukaemia Busters, a Southampton-based childhood leukaemia charity.
Fast forward to more recent times, in 2021 he donated a kidney to a stranger, known as a non-directed donation, and the day after the operation, on learning that it had been successfully transplanted and was working well, he wanted to do more. He couldn't repeat the donation (this side of the river Styx) so drew on his previous experience of getting people to ride a bike to raise not only money, but awareness of living kidney donation. This is he is doing in conjunction with Give a Kidney, a small charity whose vision is 'no waiting for a transplant for want of a kidney'.
Of the c.3000 kidney transplants which take place in the UK each year, about two thirds are from deceased donors, with most of the remainder coming from family and friends. Only a tiny minority, less than 100, come from those willing to donate to someone they don't know, and may never know. This year, the total of such donations has reached 1,000 people, but it's taken since 2006, when it became legal, to reach this point.
About 5,000 people are on the waiting list for a transplant and one person a day dies from kidney disease.
With this in mind, Dennis realised that if he could prove that donating your spare doesn't impede you in any way, perhaps more people might consider this life changing - if not life-saving - gift. He came up with the idea of The Transplant Tour, a 500-mile cycle ride from Edinburgh to Oxford, taking in seven of the UK's transplant centres.
During the UK's Organ Donation Week, which started on Monday 18th, he is riding as part of a team of 15 cyclists via Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham before ending at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, which is where he donated his 'spare'.
One idea put forward by one of the transplant centre staff was to carry a baton, making it like a relay, with a donor passing on the baton to a recipient at each of the hospitals they are visiting, a symbolic representation of the giving and receiving of a kidney.
Of course, unlike an Olympic relay this is no race, more a test of endurance, with the distance being covered in six days. If you would like to learn more about living kidney donation or support the work of the charity, you can donate to the team page at:
14th September 2023