My name is Peter Reynolds, I live on the Wirral in Merseyside and in 2016 I fell ill out of the blue.
I was originally treated at the Royal Liverpool Teaching Hospital (RLTH), but when it became apparent I required a liver transplant, I was triaged successfully into the expert hands of the liver transplant team at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital Birmingham (QEHB).
I was incredibly lucky. We have an NHS. A health service which, in my opinion, is second to none in the world. It may very well be underfunded by the politicians and in some quarters undervalued, but it is bursting at the seams with people who care so much about the patients they work with and for.
My wife Sylvia and two boys, Jay and Phil, were immense in their support of me. We agreed that IF THIS WAS GOING TO END WELL, it was all about staying positive and working together as a family. We even called ourselves 'Team Reynolds'. You will never know how much I clung onto that concept through some very dark times. Yet oddly, I never felt alone. Even during the long nights, when my mind was invaded by negative thoughts, I always had the comfort of knowing Team Reynolds was with me. Maybe not physically at that moment in time, but they were in my heart.
Team Reynolds began to rapidly expand. From the health assistant's at QEHB, to the nurses (ward and specialist), porters, cleaners, psychologists, right through to the head surgeon of my transplant team. And along the way, all I received was unbelievably outstanding care, compassion, respect and positivity (CCRP). I really did feel like part of an extended family in QEHB, something I still feel to this day.
I returned to QEHB on a regular basis to attend for my check-ups; first weekly, then fortnightly and eventually every three months. I think you know what I'm going to say about every one of these visits; I was met with the same CCRP! As I explained to Mr Hynek, the lead surgeon on my transplant, ‘the after sales service was equally outstanding!’ I e-mailed him and Prof. Mirza to keep them posted in relation to my recovery. They replied and were individually incredibly supportive. Very busy people with hectic work schedules and home lives – yet they took the time to reply. How lucky was I?
Within three months of falling ill, I had received my transplant. Within one week of the transplant, I was discharged home. Within one month, I was back on my training cycle in the house. Within another month, I was back cycling on the road!
It was so easy to understand how lucky I had been AND, at the same time, how dedicated EVERY SINGLE ONE of the staff who interacted with me, (and still do), were. They were my new heroes. I had to give something back.
I was clear and determined then that this was a debt I had to repay. Not only to confirm to them that I was a worthwhile recipient of the transplant, but to help give someone else the chance I had been so fortunate to have. Simply put – to give something back. In no small part, I felt/feel obliged to respect the memory of the donor and his family.
A little research showed me that, on average, a transplant costs the NHS £50,000. So that's how much I have set out to fund raise.
I knew one challenge alone would be insufficient, so I created 'The Seven C's Challenge' (or as we in the Team know it, 'Six Cycles and a Swim!'), kicking off with the Birmingham Velo 2017.
Over the next 12 months, I will ride six challenging races/routes, which will take me through England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - finishing with a London to Paris cycle in August 2018. I will also be taking part in the Great North Swim, in Lake Windermere in June 2018, where I will be swimming 2 miles. Along the way, I will be in the safe hands of everyone in Team Reynolds. Like-minded people who, like me, want to give something back. How lucky am I?
I will not be cycling the Velo alone. Members of Team Reynolds will accompany me physically and spiritually. This has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with being part of the human race.
I have the names of the surgical transplant team, messrs Hynek, Buscholtz and Iqbal, sewn into my race jersey / equipment to remind me of all the work that went into giving me this opportunity AND to be in a position to help someone else at some point in the future, who has fallen into similar in dire straits. Of course, the names will also remind me that when things get tough, I have 50,000 reasons to be digging in and working through the pain. How lucky am I?
Team Reynolds continues to expand with every donation, every sponsorship and is stuffed to the brim with OQP’s – Only Quality People! Every donation welcomes another OQP who, like me, wants to give something back.
I have the rest of my life to admire, respect and thank my heroes. However long that is, it will be down to every single member of Team Reynolds.
How lucky am I ... ?