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Anniversary ride marking double lung transplant moved from road to back garden

Joseph Delves
6 Apr 2020

Planned fund-raising journey between Papworth and Brompton hospitals in memory of her donor adapted following coronavirus outbreak

Having received a double lung transplant three years ago, Pippa Kent had intended to mark the anniversary with a 100-kilometre ride between the Papworth and Brompton hospitals - two institutions that had been instrumental in saving her life.

Diagnosed at birth with Cystic Fibrosis, by the age of 27 Kent was no longer able to walk across a room without oxygen, and had spent months in hospital.

The transplant from a male donor saved Kent's life, but left her reliant on immunosuppressant drugs to stop her body rejecting the new lungs.

Among the side effects, these drugs also leave users more susceptible to infections. At the same time, they make exercise to stay healthy both an increased necessity and risk.

Neither of these facts have stopped Kent living an active life. Along with getting into cycling, since her transplant she’s been busy - both serving as a governor at the Papworth hospital and creating a cookbook for people living with immune suppression.

New advice

Having to take immunosuppressant drugs and being the recipient of an organ transplant both represent increased risk factors during the coronavirus outbreak.

Not the ideal situation in which to be attempting to ride from Cambridge to London. However, as recently as last week Kent was still hoping to complete the ride along with a group of friends and supporters.

'Papworth Hospital in Cambridge is where I received my transplant, and The Brompton Hospital in South Kensington is where I received my pre-transplant care. The initial plan was for a 100-kilometre bike ride between them in an attempt to raise money, while also remembering my donor,' she explained.

'While I acknowledge for some a distance of 100km may not seem a huge amount, considering my previous health, it would have been a mammoth mission.'

Unfortunately, following the latest advice, Kent’s ride has had to be moved from the road to the safer space of her back garden.

'Given the new shielding measures, and the guidance I’ve received to stay inside my home for the next 12 weeks, the options are now much more limited,' explained Kent. 'I hope to still complete the 100km ride on Sunday 12th April, just on a turbo trainer in our small garden rather than on the open road.'

Keen to mark the exact date of her transplant, Kent still hopes a more sociable version can be arranged later in the year. Perhaps, if the current restrictions are lifted, in September for Organ Donation Awareness Week.

Kent is also keen to do something now as her future health has become less assured due to a recent diagnosis of chronic rejection syndrome - meaning that despite the immunosuppressant drugs, her body is beginning to reject her lungs.

Kent training before the current lockdown 

Pre-ride update

Since initially publicising her revised plan, Kent has received help from virtual riding app RGT, along with the loan of a smart turbo trainer from a friend, meaning she's now set for her ride on Easter Sunday, 12th April.

With the online cycling app currently free, anyone with a smart trainer will also be able to virtually follow along here.

Besides the turbo trainer needed to complete the ride, various businesses have also chipped in, with over 60 prizes donated for a raffle which is being run at the same time on Instagram.

In all, Kent aims to raise at least £3,000 from both the ride and the raffle: Equal to £1,000 for every year she has enjoyed thanks to her transplant.

Anyone wanting to make a donation can visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lungaversaryride