An “inspirational” financial planner is to run the London Marathon in aid of a children’s hospice charity just a year after having a kidney transplant.
Rhys Owen, 34, from Bangor, who works for Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management Ltd in Wrexham, is back on the road to fitness after his loving younger sister donated one of her kidneys to him.
He says he has been given a new lease of life following the operation in February 2020 and as a way of thanking sister, Hannah Owen, 26, he is resolved to make the most of his future.
According to Rhys, he “hates running with a passion” but he is still determined to take on the long distance challenge.
The dad-of-three wants to prove to his children that even the greatest obstacles can be overcome with positivity and dedication.
Despite having what he described as an in-built aversion to running he volunteered to do the marathon almost immediately when the opportunity was presented by Hadlow Edwards.
The company are business champions for the Hope House/Tŷ Gobaith charity, which has children’s hospices in Morda, near Oswestry and in the Conwy Valley.
They regularly do fundraising activities in aid of the hospices which support children with life limiting conditions and their families in North Wales, Cheshire, Shropshire and Powys.
When the charity contacted Hadlow Edwards to say it had been awarded a number of places in the London Marathon which this year takes place on October 3, Rhys stepped forward even though he had been in hospital undergoing his kidney transplant operation only months earlier.
He said: “I thought to myself that what I have been through is nothing compared to what some of these children and their families are enduring.
“I have been given this renewed chance at life, the opportunity to regain my fitness and return to full health but for some children there is no such hope. They deserve all the support we can possibly give them even if it means pushing ourselves well out of our comfort zones.”
Although the operation at the Royal Liverpool Hospital went well his initial post-op recovery period was not easy going.
He said: “My sister has a different blood type to myself and as a result my body started to reject the kidney. It meant I needed a highly specialist drug but we had to get special permission from the Welsh Assembly to administer the drug as it cost so much money per dose.”
After writing to the Welsh Assembly Government, permission was given for Rhys to have four doses of the drug Eculizumab over four weeks at a cost of £250,000 per dose. His kidney function is now up to nearly 50% overall.
He says he now has a lot more energy than he can remember having before and his sister who lives in Handbridge, Chester, and is a keen athlete herself has also fully recovered.
He said: “Hannah has always been into high energy sports including triathlons and so the London Marathon seems nothing in comparison to what she does. It’s a sort of tribute to her that I am taking this on board.”
Rhys has been in training since June, going out at least three times a week and slowly building up his running distance. He has now reached 20 miles and is hoping the vibrant atmosphere of the marathon will help spur him on to complete the extra distance of a full marathon – 26.2 miles.
He lives in Bangor with his partner Tracy and their three children, Callum, eight, Oscar, six and Evelyn, two.
He is grateful to Hadlow Edwards for arranging for him to work at home during much of the pandemic when he was categorised as extremely vulnerable and at risk of COVID-19.
He is hoping to raise at least £1,500 from the run for Hope House/Tŷ Gobaith Hospice.
Cat Dowdeswell said: “What Rhys is doing for us is awe inspiring. Having braved so many challenges himself we are hugely grateful for him taking on this goal.”
Cat said the fundraising effort was needed more than ever this year as the organisation’s charity shops had to close during national lockdowns and many group fundraising events had to be cancelled due to social distancing protocols.
She said: “If it were not for people like Rhys and our other marathon runners then we would desperately struggle to maintain these services. He is a true hero.”