A RUGBY chef who was given just 48 hours to live before receiving a heart transplant is on top of the world after climbing one of the highest volcanoes in South America.
Graham Reeve, who works at The Chopping Block in Rugby, reached the 5,800 metre peak of a volcano in Ecuador in honour of his donor.
Graham, along with his Climbing for My Donor team, returned in July from the epic two-week adventure – thought to have been the highest ever climb by a group of transplant patients.
The 47-year-old, who lives in Northamptonshire, clinically died twice after being diagnosed in 2008 with a hereditary heart condition that had already claimed the life of his father.
He said: “I couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs before my transplant and was given 48 hours to live before my donor came through. I had never done anything like this before but wanted to do it for my donor and for my father.”
Following a second cardiac arrest, he was admitted to Harefield Hospital in London where he stayed for several months until the transplant in August 2012.
Graham was invited by the hospital to be part of a small expedition of heart and lung transplant patients to take on the challenge in South America to raise awareness of organ donation and funds to buy life-saving equipment.
Describing his ascent, he said: “Getting to the top was an incredible challenge. We started at 10pm and didn’t get back until 12.30am the following day. There was freezing rain hitting us all the time but once we got above the clouds it was actually quite nice.
“Lots of emotions ran through my head when I reached the top. I was overjoyed and said a prayer for my donor and for my father.
“I had a lot of support from my workmates which has been really good. They weren’t surprised at me taking on the challenge but were surprised when I came back and told them I had managed to reach the top.”
Graham is now back at work and continuing to help Climbing For My Donor raise funds to buy equipment that can extend the time a donor organ can be delivered to a recipient from a maximum of three to 12 hours.
Visit www.justgiving.com/graham-reeve1 to help Graham in his charity mission.