Tuesday 25 October 2016

'What summer? I had just two fine days on 2,500km walk', reveals transplant dad

Ron Cummings and his partner Carol Brennan at Bray.
Ron Cummings and his partner Carol Brennan at Bray.
Ron Cummings

Ireland's rain-soaked summer has not deterred heart transplant recipient Ron Cummins from walking around the coast of Ireland.

After 50 days of walking, he is more than halfway through his epic 2,500km walk and has had plenty of time to enjoy the changing moods of an Irish summer.

"It's rained on me every day except for two sunny days, but it's been an exciting adventure," said Ron.

Ron (56) is passionate about raising awareness about the vital need for people to carry organ donor cards.

"Usually, I hate walking. But it's been wonderful and I hope what I'm doing will encourage people to make a life-saving decision to carry a donor card," he said.

"If people don't carry donor cards, people die.

"One in every three people waiting on a heart transplant dies because not enough donors are available," he added.


Dubliner Ron received a donor heart 18 years ago. He had been a 'superfit' chef when he was struck down at the age of 38 with a potentially fatal heart problem which caused his heart to begin expanding in his chest. His brother Micheal had died with the condition and Ron was given a '50-50' chance of living six months without a new heart.

He was hugely grateful to receive a donor heart. He and his wife Carol, who have two adult children, moved from Tallaght to Glenamaddy, Co Galway, some years ago where they now work as foster carers.

Carol is travelling with him and is walking much of the route, as well as driving a support car loaned by Fostering First Ireland.

They are grateful for offers of overnight accommodation.

A fall of 35pc in the number of donor hearts becoming available last year spurred Ron to undertake his inspiring walk.

He headed north from Galway and reached Bray yesterday.

"Donor cards inform families of a person's wishes. Families are always consulted so the card really helps," he said.

People can make a financial donation to the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association on the MyCharity website but his main goal is for people to obtain and carry an organ donor card.

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