ON board Edinburgh Inspiring Capital is Holly Cocker, 26, a photographer and filmmaker from London, who had a kidney transplant.
She is part of the Transplant Ambassadors Project, a group of doctors and patients taking part in the race to highlight how transplants transform lives, and to encourage potential donors to sign up.
Holly will sail from California via Panama, to New York, and can’t wait for the chance to take on a physically demanding challenge.
Holly first discovered she was ill in 2003 when she collapsed on holiday in the US and ended up in intensive care. She spent five and a half years on the transplant list, at first having dialysis at home, then three nights a week in hospital. Her family were desperate to donate one of their kidneys, but they weren’t a match. Then, all of a sudden, a live donor appeared out of the blue.
“I told my friend Olly, who I grew up with, by text that I was ill – I didn’t tend to tell many people – and he texted back and said, ‘I’ll give you my kidney’,” she says. “I didn’t think he meant it, but the next thing I knew he’d called my transplant coordinator and organised tests.”
Within weeks, Olly had one of his kidneys removed and transplanted to Holly. The transplant transformed Holly’s life. “Before, I didn’t realise how ill I felt. I was absolutely shattered all the time. When I came out of anaesthetic, I felt amazing, I literally wanted to just leap up out of the bed. Transplantation is such a miracle, because it changes somebody’s life completely. I can eat what I want. I can go where I want. I can be spontaneous. I can have dreams for the future. I’m very lucky.”