Kirstie Tancock completes ‘amazing’ journey

A year after surviving a double lung transplant, cystic fibrosis sufferer cycles 180 miles to Harefield Hospital.

A year after beating all the odds, survivor Kirstie Tancock has triumphantly retraced the journey she took in an air ambulance from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to Harefield Hospital - and she did it on a bike.

Incredibly, the 22-year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer from Honiton, who was in intensive care and hours from death just over 12 months ago, cycled 180 miles and told the Midweek Herald afterwards: “I feel amazing.”

Kirstie, who set off on her Big Breath Bike Ride last Friday in aid of the charities which have supported her, is only alive today thanks to a double lung transplant.

And it was the incredible generosity of her donor and the donor’s family that kept Kirstie going during her marathon cycle.

“The most amazing person in all of this is my donor,” she said. “I have so much respect and admiration for them and constantly thought of my donor’s generosity - it made it all possible.”

There was a welcome committee waiting for Kirstie when she arrived in High Street at lunchtime on Friday. After leaving the celebratory atmosphere outside St Paul’s Church, she then faced the most gruelling stretch of her three-day journey - the Blackdown Hills - during a rare spell of hot weather.

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She completed her first day four hours later than planned and suffered bad knees during the second day. But, by the third and final day, she turned a corner.

“It was amazing,” she said. “Suddenly, all my aches and pains were gone and I just spun on. I felt like I could keep going because my body had adjusted.

“I felt so proud of myself, but more so of my team - my nurses, doctors, friends and family.”

Kirstie received fantastic support from the Cann family and friend Dave, whose sister was a transplant donor at the age of 23.

Cash raised online has already topped �3,200 and Kirstie is hopeful the final figure will be somewhere between �5,000 and �10,000.

It will be shared between charities close to her heart - the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity and Live Life Then Give Life.

“I just hope we can help save more lives,” she said.

“When we got to Harefield I met a girl who was three weeks post a double lung transplant due to cystic fibrosis.

“Like me, she had been on an ECMO machine.

“It was why we did the cycle ride - to save lives like hers and mine.”

Kirstie never knew the organ donor who saved her life, but she thinks of that person’s incredible generosity every day.