A student from Exeter, who received a liver transplant as a baby, is embarking on a 1000K cycle challenge in a bid to raise funds for a charity which is very close to her heart.
Twenty-two year old Catherine Boult was born with the rare liver disease, biliary atresia, and was given a life-saving transplant when she was just seven months old.
“I feel very lucky. Although I have to take medication and attend regular appointments, I can lead a pretty normal life and I will be forever grateful to my donor’s family for enabling that to happen,” says Catherine. “Liver disease in children is rare and when I was diagnosed my parents were put in touch with Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF) who provided them with support and information about my condition and what it meant.
“As I got older, CLDF have really helped me too. I have met some amazing people through the charity – other young people with liver disease with whom I have been able to share my story. There is a real sense of community which means information and advice is always readily available. And when I go for my twice-yearly check-ups at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, it’s great to catch up with their Young People’s Officer. CLDF also funds research into children’s liver disease which is really important to me.”
When keen cyclist Catherine celebrated the 22nd anniversary of her transplant in December, she decided to do something special in honour of her liver donor.
“I thought that 1000 miles on a bike would be a crazy enough fundraising challenge,” she explains. “I’m starting on a static bike indoors but when the weather improves, I’ll be out in the countryside and along the coast. My initial plan was to complete the challenge this year but if I cycle every day, I think I can do it in six months.”
As well as raising much needed funds for CLDF and Exeter based Dream-A Way, Catherine’s cycle challenge will give her some purpose during lockdown.
“I am currently shielding due to the transplant and immunosuppression but this is keeping me occupied and active,” she says. “I’m hoping to begin an MSc in Policy Research at Bristol University this September but in the meantime, I want to make the most of my good health and use this time to help other young people in my situation.”
Alison Taylor, Chief Executive of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation commented: “CLDF is the only UK charity dedicated to fighting all childhood liver diseases. We provide young people and their families with information, emotional support and act as a voice for everyone affected. As with many charities, the pandemic has hit our fundraising hard, which means Catherine’s fundraising is all the more valuable to us. We wish her all the best with her amazing 1000K cycling challenge.”
You can support Catherine’s cycle challenge here.