Cardiff 10k: Widow joined by 100 friends to remember husband
A woman whose husband died while waiting for a kidney transplant was joined by more than 100 friends to run 10km (6.2 miles) in his memory.
Alan Parsons, 44, of Pontycymer in Bridgend county, died in June 2018.
His widow Nicola and her friends were among 9,000 runners taking part in the Cardiff 10k on Sunday.
Mrs Parsons, who had donated one of her own kidneys to her husband, said she had been "overwhelmed by love and support".
"Alan was my first and only love, he gave me everything," she said.
"He was the most amazing, stubborn, hard-working... he was loved by so many people."
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The couple met 16 years ago, shortly after Mr Parsons had been diagnosed with kidney failure and had his first kidney transplant.
"He was healthy and was having fun... living a normal life. He liked to go to the gym, he was working," she said.
They had been together for five years when the transplant began failing - but after tests Mrs Parsons found she was a match and donated one of her kidneys.
"It was amazing to know that I could help him," she said.
She admits it was a "horrible" operation and a "nightmare" when they both returned home following the major surgery.
"We knew it wouldn't last forever but hoped it would be for a good while."
Mr Parsons returned to work as a mechanical and electrical surveyor two months later, his health continued to improve and the couple got married.
But seven years later he went into kidney failure once more.
"We were hoping for longer but you can never tell," she said.
A dialysis machine was installed in the couple's spare bedroom, Mr Parsons used it six nights a week for two-hour sessions and was put on the waiting list for a third kidney transplant.
"He was still working full time, he was a very stubborn man," said Mrs Parsons.
"He was very tired. Alan really wouldn't show you that he was unwell but he was tired and lethargic."
She worried about him "constantly".
His health continued to deteriorate until one day he became so poorly Mrs Parsons decided to drive him to A&E.
"Once we got there security had to help me get him out of the car.
"We got him to the renal ward and on to dialysis, he perked back up so I went home."
But the following morning she received a call asking her to come back in as he had suffered a cardiac arrest and was in intensive care.
The following day he was diagnosed with endocarditis, a rare infection of the inner lining of the heart and had 17 hours of heart surgery.
"They [the surgeons] said it was like trying to stitch papier mache. They couldn't control the bleeding. He came out of theatre and they couldn't get one side of the heart to pump at all.
"He went back on intensive care but he couldn't maintain blood pressure on his own."
Mrs Parsons was with Mr Parsons' two sisters, his father and stepmother at his bedside when he died on 7 June 2018.
Months later Mrs Parsons, who had already completed the Cardiff 10k twice, decided she would like to run it again to raise money for British Heart Foundation and the race organisers Kidney Wales.
"Back before Christmas I mentioned it to a few of my friends and it escalated and escalated.
"It's everybody from people who are super-fit gym instructors to people who've never run in their lives."
She said it had been hard trying to train around 12 hour shifts but said: "I've got to get through it for Alan.
"I know he'll be running with me."