Transplant recipient Diane remembered at Auckland marathon event
It was an emotional return to the ASB Auckland Marathon yesterday for heart transplant recipient Keith Eades when he, along with 30 others, walked and ran the John West 12km Traverse in memory of fellow transplant recipient Diane Plimmer.
Keith completed the Traverse alongside good friend Diane back in 2017, when both were 18 months post-transplant. It was an incredible achievement for them both and a real celebration of their transplant recovery.
Diane was elated with their achievement, her delight evident in her comments post-race.
“Keith suggested we do the Auckland 12km to raise awareness about organ donation and of course I was in. What an experience it was, 14,000 people all going over the Auckland Harbour Bridge! We finished and even got a medal (my first ever).”
Keith remembers his first meeting with Diane and the start of a great rivalry between the pair.
“My first actual memory of Diane was in the hospital ward. I was sitting in a lazy boy chair and spotted her walking around. I thought if she can do that, why can’t I? That was the start of the friendly rivalry between us that continued during our time in hospital and post-transplant recovery in Hearty Towers. The weekday visits to physiotherapy in particular became very competitive - both our exercises and the walk back to Hearty Towers afterwards."
“During our build up to the 2017 John West Traverse at the ASB Marathon our rivalry continued, with each of us trying to beat the other’s distance walked and duration. On race day we both continued our friendly rivalry.”
Sadly Diane passed away in January. At Diane’s funeral a friend suggested taking part in the John West Traverse event again this year in her memory and so ‘Team Diane’ was formed. The team grew and on Sunday 31 people took part.
Diane’s husband Grant Plimmer was amongst Team Diane on Sunday, and while it was an emotional experience for him and the others; it was also about celebrating Diane’s life and achievements.
“I still thank her donor in my heart. Without the opportunity to live a little longer, I would not have been able to create a huge collection of loving memories."
“Six of us did the John West Traverse event over the Auckland Harbour Bridge two years ago and we all had a ball. Di and I also walked the Rotorua tree walk, and the trail through the trees. We biked 23km around the Hawke’s Bay cycle way from Napier to Clive and back. We did the colour run in Napier and so many more walks. Participating in everything we were capable of doing. The opportunity to live again inspired my wife and I dedicated myself to her recovery. I thank my wife for falling in love with me over and over again."
For team Diane the event was not only about honouring Diane and her amazing courage and determination, it was also important for them to promote awareness around organ donation.
Everyone in the team wore black ‘have the conversation’ caps to encourage more people to talk about donation, because thanks to the generosity of a deceased organ donor, Diane was able to have two more years making magical memories with her family and friends.
Organ Donation New Zealand spokesperson Rebecca Oliver said she was proud of the team’s achievement over the weekend.
“It’s wonderful that Diane’s friends and family took part in the Auckland harbour bridge traverse in her memory and we thank all of ‘Team Diane’ for encouraging more people to talk about organ donation.”
For more on the ASB Auckland Marathon and John West Traverse events, visit www.aucklandmarathon.co.nz