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Strongman dad joins the Glasgow Bridges Walk with his family

10 August 2023

When Ian Alexander takes part in our fundraising event, the Glasgow Bridges Walk, on 20 August, he’ll be wearing his #TeamKidney t-shirt with pride.

The father-of-two underwent a successful kidney transplant in 2019 and jumped at the chance to raise funds after hearing about the event on Facebook.

“I spotted Kidney Research UK’s post and immediately wanted to sign up for the walk,” says Ian, 32. “I feel like I’ve had a new lease of life since my surgery, so if anyone facing treatment can take something positive from my story, brilliant.”

Ian with wife Kathleen and sons Ollie and Sonny.
Ian with wife Kathleen and sons Ollie and Sonny.

Chronic kidney disease diagnosis from an early age

Ian, from Carluke, was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease aged two, when doctors told his parents he would need a transplant at some stage in his life.

“But in 2018 my kidney function declined drastically. I was shattered all the time and was told I’d need treatment.”

Two surgeries to create a fistula – a connection made by joining a vein onto an artery to facilitate haemodialysis – failed, so Ian opted to have peritoneal dialysis, via a catheter in his abdomen, at home.

But his hopes of having a transplant were dashed when he was told the kidney hadn’t survived the transportation period. Instead, Ian was taken into theatre to have surgery on his dialysis tube, which had stopped working.

While he was undergoing that procedure, there was a miraculous turn of events.

“I’d not been back on the ward very long when they told me I was going back to theatre because they suddenly had another kidney for me,” says Ian. “It all happened so quickly – two surgeries within the space of 24 hours.”

Although the surgery was a success, Ian had to be readmitted to hospital a week later due to complications with the healing process.

“The following week we noticed an issue with my stitches – I was bleeding everywhere,” he says. “It turned out I had a blood clot the size of a 500ml cola bottle on my stomach, so I had to go back into hospital for another week to get that dealt with.”

Luckily, that’s where the complications ended and, since then, Ian has been thrilled with his recovery.

Ian Alexander during a strongman competition
Ian Alexander during a strongman competition

Recovery post transplant surgery

“Soon after the surgery I began to feel more energised and was back at work within eight weeks,” he says. “Even my colour changed – people said I looked more alive.

“In fact, it wasn’t until I had the transplant that I realised how unwell I’d actually been feeling.”

In the four years since his operation, Ian has undergone something of a physical transformation, too.

After joining a gym to help boost his fitness levels, he discovered a new passion – competitive strongman training.

“After the transplant my main focus was getting myself fit, so I started doing classes at the gym,” he says. “There was a strongman gym not far away, so I thought I’d try that and soon got the bug. I’m now training four times a week and I’ve taken part in two strongman competitions with a third in the pipeline. So you could say I’ve recovered very well!”

Taking on Glasgow Bridges Walk

Ian’s training will no doubt stand him in good stead when it comes to taking part in the Glasgow Bridges Walk for Kidney Research UK, where he’ll be joined by Kathleen and their sons – Sonny, three, and one-year-old Ollie.

“The walk is seven miles long and would probably take me two and a half hours, but more likely it’ll be four with the boys in tow,” he laughs. “If it comes down to it, I might have to put one on each shoulder!”

Help Ian reach his target by donating to his fundraising page.

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If you've been inspired by Ian's story, sign up today to join us on 20 August for Glasgow Bridges Walk.

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