In late 2015, dawn was barely breaking when Mark Wilmshurst was rushed by ambulance to King’s College Hospital. He had pneumonia and a collapsed lung. But these were merely symptoms of a much bigger problem. Mark's liver was failing and he was in desperate need of a transplant.
For the final few months of 2015, Mark remained in hospital undergoing numerous tests and operations. He spent Christmas on the ward, away from his family, anxiously waiting the news that a donor liver had been found. At last, as the clocked ticked over into 2016, his prayers were answered.
"My love and thanks to all the generous families that donate, at times of their own personal grief, is beyond words" Mark says.
“I was so incredibly fortunate to be the recipient of a donated transplant organ."
This year, as the streets of London became quiet amid the pandemic, Mark rekindled his love of cycling. To honour the Hospital Heroes who saved his life, Mark decided to raise money for King's College Hospital Charity by taking on an extraordinary cycling challenge.
“I have nothing but admiration and respect for the hard working staff and volunteers in Kings and the NHS” Mark says.
"I felt a desire to try and help in any way I could."
Mark's ambitious fundraising challenge was to cycle to Crystal Palace not once, but five times, each time starting from a different surrounding borough: Southwark, Lambeth, Lewisham, Bromley, and Croydon.
"As my fitness increased, the Crystal Palace Hill that had terrified me previously, ended up becoming a symbol of my recovery at the hands of King’s College Hospital" he says.
Mark is supported by his employer RELX which allows employees time off to help charities. RELX has also donated additional funding to King’s College Hospital Charity in support of this challenge.
Stories like Mark's are an important reminder for everyone to speak to loved ones about personal organ donation wishes.
It’s also a chance for us at King's College Hospital Charity to revisit the powerful stories of people, like Mark, who have come through the doors at King's College Hospital in need of a transplant.
- Molly, whose life was saved when her Mum, Fiona, donated part of her healthy liver to her sick daughter
- Liam who decided to name his new liver after his transplant surgeon, Miriam
- The legacy of Elena Betts, whose supporters continue to bring awareness to the importance of organ donation and raise money for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit