‘Run­ning Truly Is The Best Medicine’ Lac­ing up helped Ed­ward Batch, so he do­nated one of his kid­neys. As you do

Tak­ing up run­ning helped Ed­ward Batch re­claim his own life – and save another

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

WHAT MAKES a man give up one of his or­gans to a stranger? For Ed­ward Batch, the an­swer can be traced back to run­ning. ‘It all started when I re­sponded to a re­quest on a lo­cal run­ning Face­book page to run a marathon wear­ing a T-shirt raising aware­ness of live kid­ney do­na­tion,’ ex­plains the 39-year-old. The post was from fel­low run­ner Craig Pi­etrzyk, the father of an 11-year-old boy, Matthew, who needed a kid­ney to save his life.

Ed­ward, from Leicestershire, took up run­ning three years ago and has com­pleted events from 5K to ul­tra dis­tance. ‘I ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuse as a child, and over the years I had tried many other ways of cop­ing with the post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der I suf­fered,’ he says. ‘Run­ning was the an­swer. It truly is the best medicine.’

Ed­ward was struck by the friend­li­ness of the run­ning com­mu­nity, so although he had never met Matthew or his fam­ily, he wanted to help. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing his

T-shirt and wear­ing it in many races, Ed­ward de­cided he wanted to do more. ‘I sent a Face­book mes­sage to Craig say­ing, “I don’t know if it’s as easy as this, so ex­cuse my ig­no­rance, but I have a spare kid­ney if it helps. I’m more than willing to do­nate to a good cause”.’

Matthew had had a kid­ney trans­plant when he was two, but it was not suc­cess­ful. He was on daily dial­y­sis and tak­ing 18 tablets a day to stay alive. ‘Craig told me that the odds of find­ing a match were ex­tremely re­mote,’ says Ed­ward. ‘But he said that if I was willing to do­nate, I should go regis­ter an in­ter­est and take it from there. I re­solved that even if I was not a suc­cess­ful match for Matthew, I’d do­nate to any­one who could ben­e­fit.’

Why? ‘The only an­swer I can give is, why not?’ says Ed­ward, who is mar­ried and has three sons. ‘I have all I need in life and Matthew needed some­thing I had but did not need to live, so why wouldn’t I help?’

De­ter­min­ing Ed­ward’s suit­abil­ity was not a quick or sim­ple process. ‘Ev­ery day I wasn’t at work I would be at the hos­pi­tal for some kind of test or scan,’ he says. The tests he had to un­dergo were not just to de­ter­mine the com­pat­i­bil­ity of his kid­ney, but also to es­tab­lish whether he was phys­i­cally and men­tally pre­pared for what was to come. Af­ter a year Ed­ward got the news: he was a per­fect match and the op­er­a­tion could go ahead.

‘I firmly be­lieve that it’s down to run­ning that I was fit enough to be suit­able for the op­er­a­tion,’ he says. ‘I adopted the same method of prepa­ra­tion for the test­ing process and the op­er­a­tion it­self as I would for an ul­tra. I broke ev­ery­thing down into smaller steps to make it eas­ier and each step was a win­ning point for me. I never thought about pulling out – I knew I would see it through, re­gard­less of what it took.’

Ed­ward met Matthew for the first time a week be­fore the op­er­a­tion. ‘It was sur­real be­cause even af­ter such a lengthy process and the na­ture of what you’re do­ing for them, you are meet­ing as com­plete strangers. You worry about how you’ll come across and whether they’ll like you.’

On July 28, 2016, Ed­ward and Matthew were ad­mit­ted to Birmingham Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal for their op­er­a­tions. It was the first time Ed­ward had stayed in hos­pi­tal, but he wasn’t daunted. ‘I never once felt scared or ever doubted I would do it,’ he says. ‘I just knew it was my path in life and I was happy to walk it.’

The op­er­a­tions were a suc­cess. Matthew is do­ing ex­tremely well and has even been for a run. ‘He says his new kid­ney makes him a run­ner,’ says Ed­ward. ‘It’s been nick­named “Ed­die Ju­nior”.’ The pair have only met once since the op­er­a­tion but Ed­ward hears about Matthew’s con­tin­u­ing progress from his par­ents. ‘It’s so im­por­tant that Matthew set­tles and gets back to a nor­mal rou­tine’.

Ed­ward’s own re­cov­ery has been re­mark­able, too. Hav­ing been warned that he may have to re­main in hos­pi­tal for up to two weeks, he was dis­charged af­ter 48 hours. Three weeks later he started on a Couch to 5K plan and built from there. ‘Again, I be­lieve my run­ning has been a fac­tor in my re­cov­ery,’ he says. ‘I tried to view the process as like start­ing a train­ing plan. I be­gan just by get­ting out of bed, then walk­ing and then try­ing to get a lit­tle fur­ther each time.’

Ed­ward is back at work and run­ning 30-40 miles per week, and although he says it will be some time be­fore he’s back to the level he was at be­fore his op­er­a­tion (‘I’ve had to have a look at my diet, be­cause the do­na­tion can af­fect pro­tein lev­els’), he has his sights set on two ul­tras this year, a solo 24-hour event in Septem­ber and, be­fore that, the Grand Union Canal Ul­tra. ‘It’s 145 miles non-stop. If all goes to plan it’ll be less than a year from op­er­a­tion to ul­tra. Run­ning is part of my iden­tity now. It’s given me so much and I can’t imag­ine my life with­out it. I’m so glad that I was able to help a fel­low run­ner and his fam­ily.’

For in­for­ma­tion on or­gan do­na­tion, visit or­gan­do­na­tion. nhs. uk

‘I have all I need in life and Matthew needed some­thing I had but did not need to live, so why wouldn’t I help?’

STAND­ING TALL Ed­ward Batch used run­ning to help get his life back on track. It also in­spired an act of great gen­eros­ity

FIRMLY FO­CUSED Ed­ward is al­ready run­ning 30- 40 miles a week and is train­ing for two ul­tra events Ed­ward’s re­mark­ably straight­for­ward Face­book mes­sage to Craig

Matthew and Ed­ward af­ter their op­er­a­tions. Both have re­cov­ered well

Ed­ward rests (briefly) af­ter do­nat­ing his kid­ney

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