St Albans mum’s charity challenge for heart transplant brother’s care in America
- Credit: Archant
A St Albans mother is gearing up for a sunrise to sunset walking challenge at Heartwood Forest this weekend to raise money for her brother’s care after a heart transplant.
Tracey McCarrick’s brother Roger was born with transposition of the great arteries, a condition where the two main blood vessels leaving the heart, the pulmonary artery and the aorta, are swapped over.
It is a congenital heart condition for which the 49-year-old has had treatment, on and off, since he was a baby – including pioneering surgery aged just two.
Tracey, of Warwick Road, said: “Even though Roger was born with this condition, our mum wanted him to live as normal a life as possible. He couldn’t play sport, or be like other boys in that way, but he didn’t stand out and he wasn’t different; it was just something he had.
“He’s grown up to be a laid back person as well. It’s just something he lives with and, in a positive way, his personality has helped that because he can’t get stressed or anything like that.”
Roger, who moved to Boston in the USA two decades ago, had further corrective surgery in his 30s which allowed him to continue on without major complications for 12 years, until last year when he began to deteriorate.
Tracey said: “He knew himself that his heart was going wrong, but didn’t get on the transplant list until November. He moved from Boston to California because the cold winters were killing him.
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“In February this year, he got pneumonia and went straight to the top of the list for a new heart, it all happened very quickly.”
Roger had the heart transplant on March 11 in Stanford, California, but despite having comprehensive health insurance, his aftercare is not provided for and his family have been busy trying to raise the (US)$50,000 needed for rental accommodation near the hospital, 24/7 carer expenses, drugs and transport costs.
Six weeks ago, newly-qualified solicitor Tracey thought up the idea for her dawn to dusk fundraiser to help raise the cash.
She said: “I was looking for a challenge and I wanted something I could do with a few people getting involved. Heartwood Forest is expansive so it provides a good setting to do the walk, plus its name ties in with Roger’s cause”.
The walk should take nearly 15 hours, starting at about 5.30am on Sunday (1), with Tracey’s copywriter husband Matthew King accompanying her for the first three hours and several friends and family members joining her during the day, which is also Tracey, Roger and their two sisters’ late father’s birthday, adding further poignancy to the challenge.
IT engineer Roger, dad to daughter Razelle, 25, and son, Mars, 19, is said to be so humbled that people are fundraising for him and giving to his cause.
Tracey said: “He is so grateful, he really can’t believe it. I’m looking forward to it because it’s for Roger and I’ve never walked for that long before. I’ve been walking everywhere I can to try to prepare.”
The siblings, who lost their mum when they were young, remain extremely close despite the distance between them, and manage to see each other every year. Tracey’s next trip across the pond won’t be a social one however, it will be to care for her brother.
She added: “As long as the blisters have healed by then I’ll be happy!”
Tracey is hoping to raise £2,000. To sponsor her go to justgiving.com and search ‘I heart Roger McCarrick’.