Walking my dogs is good for mind, body and soul! Gavin steps into Christmas with Coco and Hugo
A North Yorkshire construction project manager is joining our Step into Christmas challenge to say thanks for the research that made his two kidney transplants possible.
Gavin Jewitt, 37, had one transplant from his late mum Sharon and a second last year from his partner Tanya Lynch.
“As a patient who has had two kidney transplants, I know how good it feels to keep active,” Gavin said.
“Walking is great for keeping healthy and clearing your mind, so when I saw this challenge of 12,000 steps a day for 12 days, I loved the idea of walking a bit further with our dogs while supporting a cause close to my heart at the same time.”
Gavin is walking with his French bulldogs Coco and Hugo around his home village of Brotherton, near Pontefract, where he has been working from home while shielding throughout lockdown.
His first kidney transplant was from his late mum Sharon in 2007 and lasted 11 years.
“Mum was only five feet tall on her tip toes, bless her, but despite being so tiny her kidney was powerful enough to keep me going until I got a chest infection that developed into pneumonia in 2018,” Gavin said.
“The infection decimated the kidney. So, I was back on dialysis and needing another transplant.”
Luckily, his partner Tanya was a perfect match and his second transplant went ahead last summer.
“The difference is hard to describe. We are chuffed to bits. To find a partner match and see it work so well is amazing. I feel very lucky.”
Gavin has Henock-Schonlein purpura which was picked up following a routine army medical when he was 18 years old.
I couldn’t join the army
“The army advised me to have further tests, which led me to the amazing team at St James Hospital in Leeds, which is where I was diagnosed.
“I was excited for my future, until the further tests showed kidney problems. It was a huge shock.
“From being in the gym, training hard, I had the wind knocked out my sails. My world crashed round me.
“I remember thinking, give me some tablets, then I’ll be OK, and I can join up, right? I was so wrong!”
Like most teenagers, Gavin thought he was invincible. It wasn’t until he took a tour of the Leeds renal unit and saw people on dialysis that he felt truly shattered.
Research can change lives
“It took a while to sink in. I was young and naive. My training regime and future ground to a halt.
“It was heart-breaking seeing people tied to a machine to keep them alive, then realising this was now my life. It took a while to get my head round it.”
Gavin had two episodes of dialysis for around 18 months each time before each transplant. His experience has made him passionate about supporting research to make the process better for patients.
“Dialysis takes a toll on people emotionally and physically. If fundraising challenges like Step into Christmas can help fund the research needed to make it better, I’ll be happy.”
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