UWTSD Students’ Union chief exec Rhys Dart to run 10k as gratitude for dad’s kidney transplant


UWTSD Students’ Union chief executive Rhys Dart is running in this year's Cardiff 10K in aid of leading Welsh charity Kidney Wales, which has long been providing his family with much needed support following his father's kidney transplant 25 years ago.

In the early 1990s his father, Dr Jim Dart, then 42 and head of sixth form at Radyr Comprehensive School in Cardiff, was given the news that his kidneys were beginning to deteriorate. Unfortunately the reason behind the deterioration was unexplained but after a year, doctors advised him that he should undertake dialysis treatment, in order to keep his kidney's functioning to acceptable levels.

As a young boy Rhys watched his father manage his illness, travelling back and forth three times each week from their home in Swansea to the University Hospital of Wales Cardiff, where he received his treatment. Even as a child Rhys noticed his father's health deteriorate and that his dialysis treatment was taking a toll on family life.

After months of travelling back and forth to hospital, the Dart family had their study converted into a room specifically equipped with the necessary dialysis equipment needed so that Jim could begin haemo dialysis treatment at home. Jim self-administered his dialysis each evening once Rhys had gone to sleep, as the family continued their wait for a kidney donor.

Rhys said: “At the age of 11, I remember being in school and my teacher pulled me from a lesson to tell me that my mother was on the phone. I remember her telling me that my father had been admitted to hospital as a kidney had become available for him. He had the transplant that same day. It was so surreal."

Jim received his kidney transplant at the University Hospital of Wales, although sadly Jim's body almost immediately began to reject the new organ.

The doctors instantly gave Jim immunosuppressive medications in order to help prevent his body rejecting the kidney. After no signs of improvement, doctors decided that if within two weeks there was no improvement in Jim's condition they would have to accept the donation as a failure.

The Dart family almost came to terms with the fact that the kidney transplant was not a success, until expectedly Jim's blood levels began to improve and his body stopped attacking his new kidney. It has now been 25 years since his transplant and against all odds, Jim's kidney is still functioning to maximum capacity. A recent check-up has posted the best results Jim has ever seen and at the age of 69 he feels very fit and healthy.

Over the years the Dart family have experienced a huge amount of support from leading Welsh charity Kidney Wales, including advice on healthy lifestyle changes, and guidance on travel insurance. And so this year, Rhys is showing his support for the charity that has helped his father for so many decades by taking part in the Cardiff 10K, the road race that the charity organises every year, and raising funds for the cause that remains so close to his family's lives.

"I am really looking forward to running in this year's Cardiff 10K on September 11 and showing my support for the Kidney Wales Foundation," said 36 year-old Rhys. "Growing up and watching my father's health deteriorate to the stage where he was so tired he couldn't leave the house was heart-breaking, but once he had has his transplant and his body accepted the new organ, it was like he had been given a new lease of life. It was really incredible to see, and I can't wait to give something back to the charity that supports so many people just like my father."

Roy Thomas, chief executive of Kidney Wales said: "It's incredible and so heart-warming to hear stories like Jim's where an organ donation has completely transformed a person's life. It's the kind of outcome thousands of people across Wales experiencing kidney disease can only dream of.

"At Kidney Wales the Cardiff 10K is the cornerstone of our fundraising activities and the monies raised via this event help us to support patients and families who struggle every day with the hardships of kidney failure. I wish everyone racing this year the best of luck."

Note to Editor

Further information:  Rebecca Davies 07496 385597