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Mark Dobson: Marathon effort by runners a massive boost to charities

In his weekly column, kidney transplant recipient Mark Dobson, who is the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, looks back as Belfast took centre stage at a global conference and forward to the 'big run'

Belfast has a long and proud history in leading the world with our amazing transplant and dialysis units at the City Hospital. We have strong links across the world and, on Monday, Belfast took centre stage as Queen's University hosted an international renal supportive care workshop at the Postgraduate Centre at Belfast City Hospital.

Mum and I rescheduled my appointment to be down at the hospital in time to join kidney patients, carers and staff at the workshop and hear excellent speeches from keynote speaker Professor Sara Davison, from the University of Alberta Canada, Kidney Care UK policy director Fiona Loud and our local advocacy officer William Johnston.

It was amazing to hear the continued advances being made in patient care with medical professionals working hand in hand with patients and their families to help learn from our experiences and continually improve and enhance services for the future.

When I listen to the experiences of patients in Canada they mirror almost exactly my own and many of those who mum and I have come into contact with as our transplant journey's criss-crossed. It really does bring home what a small world it is and also the importance of learning from the experiences of others and how sharing our own experiences on the world stage is crucial to future planning.

The topics discussed ranged from dealing with an itch to the difficulties associated with needling and from the impact of dialysis to the mental health aspects of kidney disease. It was lovely to hear from international experts and see so many people who are passionate about supporting kidney patients all together in Belfast looking to the future.

Just before we made the short journey from the renal unit to the Postgraduate Centre I was having my bloods taken which is the way in which my Consultant Nephrologist Dr Aisling Courtney keeps an eye on my kidney function.

I want to give a big shout out to the wonderful nurses and professionals who look after me during my twice weekly visits. Just like the staff at Daisy Hill, they are fantastic people who help kidney patients day in and day out and they have my admiration and love.

Speaking of admiration and love, I know so many people who, with just under three weeks to go, are training ahead of the Belfast City Marathon on May 7. The annual marathon is a truly amazing way in which people give back to causes which they hold close to their hearts. Many compete to not only drive themselves forward to new levels, but also to drive forward a whole series of charities and causes which motivate and help people ever day of the year.

This week we heard a bit more from the team which is joining mum in competing in the marathon on behalf of her charity Kidney Care UK.

The treadmills were rolling at Fit Banbridge as Wendy and Yvonne joined their fellow fitness fanatics in promoting their charity marathon run. Mark Gordon also got his super team together for a group photo as they all continue their training ahead of the marathon.

Massive thanks to everyone who has got behind them by supporting their JustGiving online donation page at www.justgiving.com/ fundraising/teamkidneycare ukbelfastmarathon2018 or who have been donating directly to the competitors.

It is because people put their best foot forward to help amazing causes that patients and anyone who relies on the support of others are able to look to a better and brighter. I send my best wishes to everyone who is in training for the marathon and especially those who are raising funds or awareness for causes which deliver support to patients and their families.

Belfast Telegraph

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