February 1st was the start of an inspiring new group step challenge – to collectively walk the number of steps needed to reach all the liver transplant centres in the UK. That’s a total of almost 2.5 million steps! Together, members of the South West Liver Buddies and the South West Liver Unit got moving to improve physical health and boost mental wellbeing while tracking daily steps on the app Stridekick. With this ambitious goal set, we were ready to start the challenge.
The walk was guided by Liver Buddy Josie Eddy, with daily updates and pictures of the many places we had ‘virtually’ walked.
1 – Derriford Hospital, Plymouth
We’re off! It’s the first day of the SWLB Walk Liver Transplant Centres UK challenge. We set off with a group of 27 Liver Buddies and South West Liver Unit staff all walking the virtual distance from Derriford Hospital towards our first centre QEH Birmingham, logging our steps together.
2 – Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham
It’s a great start to our challenge and we are smashing it! Walking around 500k steps in 2 days, the 5 teams virtually arrive at QEH Birmingham. QEH perform an average of 147 liver transplants each year (official records 2018 – 2021). Stage one completed! We continue on our way to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
3 – Birmingham Children’s Hospital
Remember, every step counts! Before leaving Birmingham, we drop in to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where paediatric transplant patients are cared for. Clocking up more steps towards the target, another combined 330k steps (around 150 miles) are logged by the 5 teams and we are getting closer to our next transplant centre.
4 – Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Another fantastic effort from everyone. Our walking steps have equalled 300 miles over 4 days and we arrive at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The Royal Infirmary perform on average 68 liver transplants each year (official records 2018-2021). Keen to reach our next transplant centre we head on…
5 – Newcastle Freeman Hospital
A further 250k steps are recorded, bringing us to our next transplant centre Newcastle Freeman Hospital. The most northern transplant centre in England, Newcastle Freeman perform on average 26 liver transplants each year (official records 2018-2021). They also carry out many life-saving heart, lung and kidney operations. A fantastic team effort, we are all set for the next stage.
6 – Leeds St James’s University Hospital
Stepping approximately 100 miles we arrive at Leeds St James’s University Hospital. St James’s perform on average 85 liver transplants each year (official records 2018-2021). We take a well-earned rest before the next stage.
7 – Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge
Another incredible 150+ miles have been walked and we reach Addenbrooke’s Cambridge. Addenbrooke’s perform on average 80 liver transplants each year (official records 2018-2021). It is less than 2 weeks into our challenge and we’re already on the way to smashing it!
8 – Royal Free Hospital, London
After a relaxed weekend walk of 60 miles completed from Cambridge, we arrive at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The Royal Free perform on average 97 liver transplants each year (official records 2018-2021). We’re now setting off together on the last leg.
9 – King’s College Hospital London
We arrive at King’s College Hospital London, a familiar sight to the South West Liver Buddies. King’s perform on average 154 liver transplants each year (official records 2018-2021) and is linked to our own South West Liver Unit at Derriford, Plymouth. Every one of us have been associated in one way or another, either as a patient receiving specialist liver disease treatment, a liver transplant, or working for the NHS. We take time to honour all our donors, their families and to thank the wonderful NHS.
Leaving London behind, we make our way back to the South West. After losing a couple of days while sheltering from Storm Eunice, on day 19 of the challenge we finally reach our starting point, Derriford Hospital.
Together we achieved the challenge in just 19 days. Between Feb 1st – 19th, more than 2.5 million steps were totalled by the group (the equivalent of 1,150 miles), an enormous achievement. Thank you to everyone who took part and stepped up to the challenge!
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BY TAMSYN ALLEN