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Father whose sons were saved by kidney transplants running to raise money for research

PUBLISHED: 09:48 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:19 11 March 2020

Stewart South with sons Joel and Oliver    Picture: Stewart South

Stewart South with sons Joel and Oliver Picture: Stewart South

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A father whose sons were saved by kidney transplants is running to raise money for research.

From left Niki Smith, Hayley Reeves and Stewart South  Picture: Stewart SouthFrom left Niki Smith, Hayley Reeves and Stewart South Picture: Stewart South

Joel South, from King's Lynn, received one of his father Stewart's kidneys when he fell ill in 1999.

Just three years later, his brother Oliver, also from Lynn, suffered kidney failure and received a transplant from an anonymous donor.

Now Mr South Snr is set to run the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 26 for Kidney Research UK.

Running with him to raise money for Kidney Research UK will be Oliver's girlfriend Hayley Smith, 36, and Joel's sister-in-law Niki Reeves, 33.

Mr South, 72, will be taking to the streets of the capital for the third time, to add to an impressive list of running events including marathons in New York and Amsterdam.

Over the last 20 years, the retired Environment Agency worker from Middleton has raised £20,000 for kidney research, but says he still wants to do more to help the 3m people in the UK suffering from kidney disease.

'In 1997 our younger son Joel was diagnosed with kidney failure and it changed all our lives forever,' he said.

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'Joel was 17 when he was diagnosed following a simple blood test and, understandably, it hit him hard.'

Within months Joel was on dialysis. When his father offered to be a donor, doctors found he was the perfect match.

The operation took place on May 4, 1999 and Joel's health was transformed.

Then older brother Oliver was also diagnosed with kidney failure and on the waiting list for a transplant.

'We were at a wedding, in the middle of the church service when Oliver's mobile rang,' said Mr South Snr. 'It was the transplant coordinator saying that he had a kidney for Oliver. So, in all our finery we immediately drove to Addenbrooke's where the transplant operation was successfully carried out on April 20, 2002.'

Both Joel, now 40, and Oliver, 43, have made remarkable recoveries.

'There is still no cure for kidney disease and in the last year 5,000 people were on the kidney transplant waiting list,' said Mr South. 'Many people wait years for a kidney transplant and last year 260 people on the transplant list died waiting.'

Mr South hopes to raise money for stem cell research which could enable patients to have their own cells used to repair their kidneys, avoiding the need for dialysis or transplants.

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