On Sunday 7th April, Iain Wilkinson is set to take on London Landmarks, his first half-marathon to raise funds for Leeds Hospitals Charity to support the Leeds Adults Transplant Team.

The British Transplant Games is an annual sporting event that brings thousands of transplant receipts and their families together to compete in sporting competitions, encouraging fitness post-surgery and to raise vital awareness of organ donation. Leeds Teaching Hospitals have both an adult and children’s team that compete each year.

Leeds Hospitals Charity supports Team Leeds competitors every year by helping to fund kit, accommodation, and travel for participates.

In 2013 Iain was admitted to hospital with peritonitis, which is an infection of the inner lining of your tummy. While this was being investigated it was discovered that the cause of this was cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver caused by long-term liver damage. The scar tissue then prevents the liver from working properly. Iain was treated in hospital for several months and was then urgently referred for a liver transplant.

In April, Iain had his initial assessment for the transplant and was approved to join the waiting list in early May. During this time Iain was taken off the list due to being severely unwell and not well enough to survive the operation. The incredible staff at St James Hospital stabilised Iain and he finally received his life-saving liver transplant on the 19th May 2014.

Iain spoke to us about his life post-transplant:

“Immediately after my transplant I was scared of everything. I had been ill for so long that the simple things seemed daunting – the top of the stairs in my own house seemed very high and precarious at first. With time though I started to accept life but was still very careful in how I mixed, what I ate - my transplant dominated everything.”

During his time in hospital recovering from his transplant, Iain’s brother was able to visit him from Australia and one of the activities they used to do was laps of the ward. On one of the walls of the ward contained a frame with two medals inside from the British Transplant Games and Iain’s brother said to him, “You should get some of those for yourself.” 

Iain spoke to us about how the Leeds Transplant Adult Team has made such a positive impact on his life:

“The team gave me my life back when everything was so strange and new. I was a year post-transplant when I first met the team and was instantly made to feel welcome and supported.

My transplant dominated everything but that all changed within moments of arriving at my first Transplant Games. Seeing hundreds of other recipients living normal lives and enjoying doing all the things everyone else does made me reevaluate my own approach.”

In April 2024 Iain is set to take on the incredible challenge of the London Landmarks Half Marathon, all in support of the Leeds Adult Transplant Team.

“Almost everyone involved in Transplant Sport is competitive, that can be against people they see at every games in their chosen sports, their friends or even themselves. In my case, I was so far down the illness road that I have irreparable damage to my feet which caused enormous swelling, so the distance for my brisk stroll for the half marathon is well within my capabilities but doing it at the necessary speed to meet the time limit, on the other hand, will be more of a challenge.”

“I’m taking on this challenge for two reasons, to raise awareness and funds for the team. Raising awareness so people see what a new life a transplant recipient can have thanks to their donor, and funds so more people can attend the British Transplant Games with the Leeds Adults Transplant Team without having to worry about the cost.”

You can donate to Iain’s fundraising page here: Iain Wilkinson is fundraising for Leeds Hospitals Charity (justgiving.com)