A MAN who received a kidney transplant said he is excited to get back on his bike to take part in a competition that is coming to Oxford for the first time next week.

Mike Oliver was diagnosed with the hereditary condition polycystic kidney disease, where cysts develop in the kidneys and as they grow larger, the kidneys struggle to work properly until, eventually, they cannot function at all.

In 2015, he received a kidney transplant after two years on the waiting list, and at the end of this month he will be competing in the European Transplant and Dialysis Games taking place at Blenheim Palace.

The event is similar to the Paralympics Games or Invictus Games and organisers anticipate more than 400 competitors attending this year, all transplant recipients or dialysis patients from over 25 countries across Europe.

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It will be the first time the UK hosts the event and it represents an opportunity to promote the benefits of organ donation and life-saving impact of organ transplantation.

Mr Oliver, 59, who lives in Witney with his wife Gill, said: “I’ve been a cyclist since I was 15 and it’s a sport that I’ve always enjoyed – I was a professional cyclist in the 80s and also took part in the Tour of Britain then.

“When I was diagnosed with kidney disease and had to go on dialysis, it was a big shock to the system.”

Mr Oliver’s condition is what is known as a ‘late-onset’ one, meaning it’s likely you’d go through life with no symptoms until you hit your 40s or 50s.

Oxford Mail: Mr Oliver after winning gold in the 50-59-year-old age group at the British Transplant Games cycling road race in Leeds this year. Mr Oliver after winning gold in the 50-59-year-old age group at the British Transplant Games cycling road race in Leeds this year.

The renal team at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford had been closely monitoring his health and were able to pinpoint when he would reach what is known as ‘end-stage renal failure’.

Mr Oliver’s father, Robert and his aunt Elizabeth have both received kidney transplants and his family believe his grandmother may have had the same condition.

He said that competing in the games in Oxford will be a way to celebrate and honour the transplant he was lucky to receive.

Mr Oliver, who works as a retail analyst, said: “After the transplant I felt amazing and so different – you don’t realise how sick and how unwell you are until you get your transplant, you are only deteriorating slightly hour by hour and day by day.

“We have a fantastic renal unit at the Churchill and I am so grateful for them and the way they took care of me.

“Two or three months after the transplant I knew I wanted to get back into shape, lose weight and look after my transplant, and I thought cycling would be the best way to do it – I had my bikes I used to train on, so I knew I could do it.

“In June 2015 I started riding again and I wanted to aim for something and give myself a target.”

He ended up taking part in the 2016 British Transplant Games for the first time and since then has been competing almost every year. This year, he won gold in the cycling road race in Leeds.

He said: “I was quite surprised, given how little I had trained for it. I had covid in March and took my time recovering from it, as it affected me quite badly, so I didn’t do a lot of training. I think I was able to make up for it with a bit of experience.

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“With the European games coming to Oxford, this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. It’s going to be interesting as the course is quite up and down and I’ve never really been that good at going up-hill.

“The competition is going to be very strong and I’ve been training like mad for the past four weeks.

“It’s an opportunity to say ‘look, after your transplant you can live a normal life, an active life’ - I received my transplant from a donor and I don’t know who that person was, but I feel it’s important to honour their donation and make the most of it.”

The games will start with on Sunday August 21 with a parade through the city before the opening ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre.


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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers. 

Get in touch with her by emailing: Anna.colivicchi@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @AnnaColivicchi