Coast-to-coast challenge for former transplant patient

Andrew McKinty took part in a charity cycle for the renal unit at Royal Victoria Hospital.  INCT 36-721-CON
Andrew McKinty took part in a charity cycle for the renal unit at Royal Victoria Hospital. INCT 36-721-CON

A Larne man who received a kidney transplant as a teenager has completed a gruelling 360-mile charity cycle from Malin Head to Mizen Head.

Andrew Mc Kinty, 29, set off on the fundraising feat on August 14 to raise money for the renal unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

The former Ballycarry native was treated regularly at the hospital after he was diagnosed with kidney reflux at birth.

He received his first transplant at 16, with his father, Sam, acting as donor.

Andrew told the Times: “I was back and forth to the Royal for check ups every couple of months from when I was born to when I got the first transplant, so I got to know all the doctors and nurses there really well.”

Unfortunately, his body rejected the organ, leading to a second kidney transplant.

The former Larne High School student returned to the Royal in 2009 after developing an infection just one month before his wedding.

“My body was starting to reject the kidney again, which can happen. A transplant is actually a treatment rather than a cure,” Andrew explained. “We had to cancel our honeymoon but the wedding at least gave me something to aim to be out of hospital for.

“My kidney is at about 23 percent function now; I’m still on immunosuppressants and steroids and I will probably need another transplant down the line.”

Andrew, who works for Larne-based Road Trucks, Ltd, is now on a mission to raise funds for the renal unit as well as general awareness.

“I’ve always liked to cycle and I thought Malin to Mizen Head would be a good idea to show that it can be done; my wife Gemma kept me company along the way,” he added.

“I’d been training since February but it was harder than I thought it would be; afterwards I felt mentally and physically broken. After I’d had a rest and something to eat, I felt more of a rush.”

With an overall target of £1000, Andrew has already raised £750 towards the RVH unit.

The local man is even planning another next challenge for next year, a coast-to-coast cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

For more information, see Andrew’s Facebook page on www.facebook.com/pages/Be-a-hero-cycle/333803086773091