Somerset

Transplant patient's heart from avid cyclist inspires Bristol to Newcastle ride

Kevin Mashford
Image caption After Kevin Mashford found out his donor had died cycling, he decided he had to "keep this heart cycling"

A heart transplant patient who found out his donor had been a keen cyclist is cycling to raise money for research.

Two years ago, Kevin Mashford from Somerset was given months to live but last year he underwent a life-saving heart transplant from a man named John.

"When I found out he'd died cycling that's when I thought I've got to keep this heart cycling," Mr Mashford said.

He now plans to cycle 342 miles (550km) from Bristol to Newcastle to raise funds and awareness for transplants.

The 39-year-old, who had battled congenital heart disease for most of his life, said he had been on a waiting list for a new heart for more than a year when he was told there was a potential match.

"I knew straight away that it was going to be a match," he said.

"And when I first woke up [after the operation] I thought 'wow this is what a proper heart feels like'. I'd never felt that in my body ever."

'Message from brother'

But following the 13-hour operation, he wanted to find out about his donor "straight away" and discovered he had been an avid cyclist named John.

With an "urge to do something" in John's memory, he has decided to cycle from Bristol to Newcastle on 17 July to encourage people to become organ donors and raise money for The Transplant Association.

"I had a message from his brother," he said,

"He said if anyone's heart is going to get you over that finishing line in Newcastle it's going to be his."

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