Mark Tompkinson is a truly inspiring person.
After three operations and two years of chemotherapy failed to cure his cancer, the 55-year-old was given just 18 months to live.
Then, out of the blue, he was asked if he would consider pioneering transplant surgery which would replace six of his organs, and remove two more completely.
After the mammoth operation – which also removed a 4st tumour – Mark spent nine weeks in hospital during which time his family were called to his bedside on two occasions.
Two years later, however, he is training to take part in the British Transplant Games and puts his remarkable transformation down to one thing - the National Health Service.
“The NHS is a wonderful and precious institution which we should celebrate and treasure,” said Mark.
“I am so grateful to the NHS, not only for saving my life but for giving me hope for the future and allowing me to celebrate special events I thought I would never see.”
The operation that Mark went through at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford was only the fourth of its kind anywhere in the world.
But, as well as the life-saving treatments he received, he says the care he has received from everyone in the NHS – from Stannington Medical Centre to the Christie Hospital in Manchester –has been exemplary.
Mark reserves particular praise for an Oxford nurse practitioner called Ali Smith, who he says has been a ‘huge personal support’ to him, his wife and his two boys.
And he says he is also indebted to counsellors at Sheffield’s IAPT service who have helped him – and his family -–cope mentally with the ordeal.
“People are quick to criticise the NHS but when you need to count on them for life-saving medical care they are there for us,” said Mark.
“Only the NHS could offer me this surgery and the Churchill was the only place in the world that could provide this treatment option.”
“I witnessed at first hand the total and absolute dedication of so many people within the NHS to keeping me alive. Without their collaboration and teamwork I would not be here today.”
Mark’s condition is stable at the moment and he intends to stay fit and healthy as long as he can to prove to the doctors who gave him this chance their decision was the right one.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me so I just try to cherish each day,” he says.
“But I am hoping that through me and the previous two survivors of this procedure that there will be a legacy created that will benefit people suffering from this condition all over the world.”
Last year, Mark raised more than £10,000 for a new family room at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford by taking part in the Sheffield 10k.
And in August, he will compete in the 5k event at the British Transplant Games in Birmingham.