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To thank Southend Hospital for saving his life, and to highlight the importance of giving blood, Luke Golder has taken on an epic rowing challenge.
It took Luke, 34, only five months to learn how to row and get fit enough to complete a 20-mile solo row of the River Crouch and raise £3,500 for Kitty Hubbard Ward.
It’s a fundraising feat made all the more astounding as it comes just eight months after two major operations, and Luke had never rowed a boat in his life. But he was ready for the challenge with the help of Dawn Wood – the second fastest woman to ever row the Atlantic (51 days) – who volunteered to show him how to row.
Luke, from Canewdon, said: “The Kitty Hubbard team saved my life. And they didn’t just help me to recover, they cared for me with so much attention and made me smile every day. I received 27 units of blood, which is why I am here today and why giving blood now means so much to me.”
The last couple of years haven’t been easy for Luke; he’s recovered from Epstein Bar Virus, fought back from a brain haemorrhage and suffered a seizure on his wife’s birthday. Then in June last year he was rushed into hospital with internal bleeding in his small intestines – losing blood faster than doctors could transfuse it back into his body.
Luke said: “After a day of trying to find the source of the bleed, surgeons performed an emergency laparotomy to save my life.
“Due to the astonishing work of my surgeon, the team of NHS staff from porters to anaesthetists, and 27 units of blood, I survived the condition which was diagnosed to a be a Meckels Diverticulum; a rare condition that affects 2% of the population.”
He cites recovering from such major surgery and living with an Ileostomy – which is a stoma created using the end of the small intestine – as being by far his greatest challenge, both mentally and physically. But Luke knows he wouldn’t be here without the dedication of Southend Hospital staff.
Gill Donohue, Senior Critical Care Nurse, said: “It is really fantastic that we have received this money from Luke. It gives staff a real buzz to know they are appreciated and we are so grateful to Luke for completing the rowing challenge and raising so much money.
“Critical care and high dependency units are very specialised areas. This money will help us buy the very latest equipment that will have a real impact on our patients.”