Father’s pledge after daughter’s transplant

Jon and Jemma Reast. (S)
Jon and Jemma Reast. (S)

A father from Harrogate is taking part in the London Marathon to raise the profile of organ donation after a transplant saved his daughter’s life.

Jon Reast, 50, Dean of Bradford University Faculty of Management and Law, is to take on the challenge on April 26 to raise money for the Kidney Research Foundation.

This comes after his daughter Jemma, now a healthy 20-year-old student at Warwick University, contracted E-Coli poisoning at the age of three. As a result, she suffered kidney problems throughout her childhood and had to go through a transplant five years ago, right in the middle of her GCSEs at Ashville College.

“Thankfully, both myself and my wife were both good matches and I was able to successfully donate a kidney,” he said. “She was initially well, but within a year, after picking up an infection, was back in hospital seriously ill.

“Jemma eventually managed to fight what was a very significant infection with the help of blood and blood plasma transfusions.

“In the midst of this, we had the extra stress of being told they may run out of blood plasma in the area. As a result of this, and after she got back to full health, I have been a committed blood donor. Around 25 per cent of us will need a transfusion at some point in our lives.

“Partly to prove to myself, my daughter and others that donating a kidney is ‘easy’, I entered and completed the Brighton Marathon in April 2011, just 15 months after the transplant operation.

“This is also now my motivation for entering and running the London Marathon. I want to raise the profile of organ and blood donation and the importance of research into things like kidney disease.

“Unless you’re confronted by an illness, you largely ignore it. But Jemma was at very serious risk of dying.

“Part of my reason for wanting to do this is to encourage people to sign up to the register - it’s so important in changing people’s lives.”

To sponsor Jon visit www.justgiving.com/Jon-Reast-LondonMarathon.