Running to raise cash for Addenbrooke's after double transplant saved his sons
Stewart South is hoping to run the London Marathon again at the age of 70
A man who donated one of his kidneys to save the life of one of his sons is to continue raising money for Addenbrooke’s by running the London Marathon at the age of 70.
Stewart South, 69, donated the organ after younger son Joel was diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of 17 – and he was horrified when his elder son, Oliver, contracted the same illness just a few years later.
Following dialysis, Oliver underwent a transplant using an organ from an anonymous donor in 2002. Joel needed dialysis and had waited two years before his father offered one of his own kidneys.
Stewart has since raised thousands of pounds for the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and plans to take part in the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 22 next year as a thank-you for the care that both of his sons received.
“Joel had problems in 1997 when he was 17,” Stewart said. “He’d been a super-fit sportsman and he did every activity going and wanted to go into, against our better judgement, amateur boxing.
“To do that you have to have a certificate from the doctor. We couldn’t really talk him out of it so we thought if he got knocked down on the canvas once that would be the end of it. But two blood tests later the GP was still not happy with the results and referred him to hospital and the renal consultant.
“Two weeks later they told him he had kidney failure. He never did do his boxing and was traumatised by the result. We later found out it was a hereditary condition. My wife had a slight kidney condition which was checked before we started a family.
“After Joel was diagnosed, he was a nightmare because he just didn’t want to see doctors or nurses or go to the hospital, even to the point of opening the car door and trying to get out at 60mph. It was horrendous.
“He then had a massive fit due to his high blood pressure, which is one of the side effects of kidney failure. He was on dialysis by this time. He was in critical care in a coma for five days and we were told he might not survive. But the second thing we were told was that if he did survive, he might be brain damaged because of the pressure on the brain.
“After recovering, he matured and came to terms with the idea of having a transplant. This time, I said I would get myself tested. I was found to be compatible and in 1999 we both went for a kidney operation. I gave and he received. Joel recovered quickly and went back to work as a fitness instructor, but we were then told our other son, Oliver, might suffer from this too. He duly did get diagnosed with kidney failure, but he was much more sane about the whole thing and he underwent a transplant from a deceased donor in 2002.”
The care he received from Addenbrooke’s spurred Stewart on to make people aware of organ donation and to raise more money for the hospital’s kidney research programme and for ACT.
He said: “I initially started to raise money for Kidney Research UK by doing the London Marathon. I then did the New York Marathon in 2004 and then the Dublin Marathon, raising money for a kidney research project looking into why some people get a kidney transplant and the body rejects it.
“Both our sons hold down normal jobs and lead normal lives. I’m retired now. I’ll be 70 next year so I’ve put my name down for the London Marathon. If they don’t accept me I’ll do another marathon somewhere else. I can’t see myself ever giving up the running.”