A heart-transplant patient is walking the coast of Northumberland as part of a 5,000-mile trek around Britain to help raise £100,000 for the British Heart Foundation’s life-saving research.
Kieran Sandwell, 45, from Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, is taking on the incredible challenge, called Trail of Two Hearts, to mark the end of his long battle with heart disease after having a heart transplant eight years ago.
After setting off on Wednesday, February 1, from the British Heart Foundation office in London, Kieran’s incredible journey will now see him walking the coast of Northumberland.
He is set to arrive in the county tomorrow and is due to be in Northumberland for a week, visiting Blyth, Cresswell, Warkworth, Embleton, Holy Island, Belford and Berwick along the way.
Kieran is calling on the public to support him on his journey by helping him raise £100,000 for the charity’s life-saving research and bringing new hope to the seven-million people like him living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK.
In Northumberland alone, more than 43,000 people are living with heart and circulatory disease.
Speaking ahead of his challenge, Kieran said: “The inspiration for my challenge came to me around 25 years ago, but then I would never have been able to complete such an endurance challenge.
“It’s only thanks to my donor, the British Heart Foundation, the Brompton and Papworth Hospital and NHS Blood & Transplant that I am able to make my dream a reality.
“My second heart has enabled me to do so much and I’m urging the public to help me support the British Heart Foundation’s ground-breaking research by making a donation.”
Kieran’s battle with heart disease began when he was just three years old, when he had to have open-heart surgery to correct a condition called transposition of the great arteries, where the main arteries in the heart are ‘plumbed’ back to front.
When Kieran was 13, he suffered a heart attack and during his early 20s he also suffered two mini strokes and began having abnormal heart rhythms. By the time he reached 35, he was in heart failure and he was put on the transplant list for a new heart.
In July 2009, Kieran received his new heart and donated his old heart for British Heart Foundation-funded research into congenital heart disease which has contributed to important findings and helped others living with conditions like his. Now the money he raises on this incredible journey around Britain will help fund even more life-saving research.
Nikki Bell, British Heart Foundation Area Fund-raising Manager for Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, said: “We never cease to be amazed by the incredible way our fund-raisers raise money for our research, but Kieran’s coastline challenge is one of the biggest we’ve ever seen.
“We are so incredibly grateful for his determination and dedication to supporting our work and we’ll be supporting him every step of the way!
“Every three minutes someone in the UK loses their life to heart and circulatory disease, which devastates the lives of those they leave behind. We urgently need more people to join our fight for every heartbeat and help fund our life saving research, so if Kieran has inspired you please do help power his steps and donate.”
Berghaus, the outdoor clothing and equipment brand, is supporting Kieran on his walk by providing clothing, including a waterproof jacket and warm winter-wear.