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London Marathon challenge for 72-year-old whose sons both needed kidney transplants

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A 72-year-old whose two sons needed kidney transplants has completed the Virtual London Marathon as a gesture of appreciation for a vital charity.

Lynn's Stewart South ran 26.2 miles in West Norfolk in four hours, 43 minutes and 52 seconds in support of Kidney Research UK.

His son Joel’s kidney failed exactly 21 years to the day of Stewart donating to him, and his other son Oliver had a kidney transplant in 2002. Both are now in their 40s.

Stewart South with his sons Joel and Oliver. Picture: Stewart South (42656773
Stewart South with his sons Joel and Oliver. Picture: Stewart South (42656773

Joel was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge with suspected kidney failure but his health has improved since.

Mr South said: "Joel’s health deteriorated significantly and only improved when he went on dialysis at the beginning of September - a huge relief for him and all the family.

"He now awaits another transplant. Dialysis has been Joel’s saviour this last few weeks, but it is not an ideal long-term solution. Joel hopes for another kidney transplant so that he can lead a full, unrestricted lifestyle once more."

Mr South originally donated a kidney to Joel in 1999, and want to show his support for Kidney Research UK which is funding research into regenerative medicine for kidney patients. There is no cure for kidney disease and around 5,000 people were on the transplant waiting list last year.

Regarding his running challenge, Mr South said: "Some friends braved the elements to cheer us on which was a pleasant distraction to the now-atrocious weather conditions.

"As I got to about 20 miles I had had enough and was completely soaked, but I knew I couldn’t give up. I tried to compute the timings for the last few miles to finish in under five hours, but it was hard to get my befuddled brain to function properly."

His target was under five hours so he could qualify for a ‘Good for Age’ place in the real London Marathon in 2021.

Mr South's wife Ali provided drinks, energy gels and jelly babies for her husband en route, while Oliver and Joel rode alongside him on electric bikes. He was also supported by Oliver's girlfriend, Hayley Smith, Joel's wife, Carly, and his sister-in-law, Niki Reeves.

The 72-year-old added: "Until very recently we have been lucky with the health of our two lads, both now in their 40s. But we are always anxious about their health and welfare and, indeed, the other three million people in the UK suffering with kidney disease.

"Yes, a marathon is a long way for an old un, but it will be worth it if I can raise money to help change people’s lives for the better."

To donate to Mr South's fundraiser go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/StewartSouth where more than £2,000 has been raised after he originally set a target of £1,200.

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