A man who ran 1,000km from the north to the south of Ireland in 15 days says he hopes his feat will inspire others to register as organ donors.
Don Hannon received a garda escort on Sunday evening as he reached his final destination on the Beara Peninsula, having set out from the Giant’s Causeway on March 31, the first day of Organ Donor Awareness Week.
An organ donor, Don, 45, had donated part of his liver to his ailing sister Therese in July 2016.
“It was an epic journey filled with fear and excitement in equal amounts. I’m very relieved to have made it to the finish,” he said, on arrival in the fishing port of Castletownbere.
“Hopefully, I have inspired many people to register for organ donation cards.”
Local artist and musician Tim Goulding, a liver transplant recipient, was among those awaiting Don’s arrival.
“There are few men or women in the whole of their health that would undertake such a venture,” Mr Goulding said. “What makes Don doubly special is that he is inspiring many on the way to consider carrying a donor card, having successfully donated a part of his own liver to his sister.
“As a recipient of a new liver nearly three years ago, I am naturally aware I have been given a second chance in life due to a family’s generosity and foresight.
“Out of someone’s tragedy has sprung a new life. Us recipients share one overriding emotion — gratitude,” he said.
Colin White, national projects manager of the Irish Kidney Association, said Mr Hannon’s efforts “caught the imagination of people who had never met him but were inspired by his challenge and were motivated to think positively about organ donation and take steps to sign up for organ donor cards”.
The IKA said there are 524 people active on the various waiting pools for heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants at the end of 2017.
Due to the donations of 99 deceased organ donors in Ireland, as well as 51 living kidney donors, a total of 327 organs were transplanted into 321 patients, including 23 children last year.
Fifteen of the patients underwent 16 HSE-funded transplants in the UK last year.
Organ donor cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on tel 01 6205306, by sending a free text with the word DONOR to 50050, or by visiting www.ika.ie/card.
For more information on Don’s challenge visit www.Runningdonor.com or Facebook page ‘Running the Ireland Way’.
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