David hopes ride will improve father’s chance of transplant

David Sapsford and Peter Featherstone and, below, David with his father, Graham
David Sapsford and Peter Featherstone and, below, David with his father, Graham
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A son who has watched his father deteriorate while waiting for a new heart hopes encouraging more people to become donors will save his life.

Next year, David Sapsford and friend Peter Featherstone, both from Bury St Edmunds, plan on being part of a four-person team to cycle 3,000 miles in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

David and Graham Sapsford during happier times

David and Graham Sapsford during happier times

David, 35, who works as a critical care pharmacist at West Suffolk Hospital, hopes the team’s efforts in climbing more than 170,000 vertical feet from California to Maryland in seven days will also help raise awareness of the desperate need for more donors.

In 2009, his father, Graham, sailed around Britain in a yacht.

Now the once-active 64-year-old suffers breathlessness and exhaustion as he waits for the heart transplant he so desperately needs.

“If I can increase his chances of receiving a heart by doing this then that’s great – that’s what we’re trying to achieve,” said David.

“His heart condition has meant he has had to give up his active lifestyle, his involvement in local community groups and many things he loved, such as sailing and singing in a local choir,” said David.

“He does still get enjoyment out of cooking – he can stand for a while but his ankles will swell up a bit. He does a bit of work in the garden but it’s exceptionally tiring – he has to put his feet up and recover.”

Through the course of his job, David meets patients in need of transplants who have become critically ill – it is a constant reminder of what could happen to his father in the ‘relatively near future’.

“It’s a really peculiar position to be in,” said David, who registered as a donor when applying for his provisional driving licence at the age of 17.

“I would say to people not on it, put yourself in my position – put yourself in my dad’s position.”

He and his team are self-funding their involvement in next year’s Race Across America so any money donated will go straight to the heart charity.

Their fund-raising efforts will get a kick-start next month when West Suffolk Hospital hosts its critical care charity ball.

The event will take place on September 12 at the Thurston New Green Community Centre from 7.30pm.

For tickets, priced at £30, call 01284 713128 or email denise.smith@wsh.nhs.uk

To support David’s efforts, visit www.justgiving.com/Sapsford-RAAM

The group are aiming to regularly update their followers through riders’ blogs and videos and also to keep people up to date about the condition of David’s Father.

For updates, go to: www.facebook.com/SapsfordRAAMOrganDonorsNeeded

Donations can also be made by text - send ‘RAAM49’ and the amount you would like to donate to 70070. There is no charge for the service.