Newcastle’s Mark Shepherd has spent more than 80 hours on his bike over the past two weeks.
He is on day 13 of a 23-day challenge to cycle the entire distance of the Tour de France, the equivalent of riding from Newcastle all the way to Cape York.
Mark has taken on the challenge to raise awareness of organ donation.
“To be honest, it started as a personal challenge but then I thought this is something crazy enough to get some attention and create some awareness for an important cause,” he says.
“I’d seen an article that talked about organ donation and it gave me a bit of a spark.
“Then I started researching and what hit me were the stories of people waiting for an organ transplant.
“If not enough people are registered, people won’t have an organ to come and potentially save their life.”
Recent data from the Australian Organ Donor Register indicates that around 51% of people living in the Newcastle and Hunter area are registered donors.
This is higher than the state registration average, which is about one in three people in NSW.
Mark says that, while cycling for seven to 10 hours a day is a “constant challenge”, it’s worth it to start a conversation around organ donation.
“Go on to [the DonateLife website] if you want to know more about it,” he says.
“It is incredibly easy to do, it takes about one minute and then talk to your family about it because they will be asked and should know about what you want to do.”
Mark adds it could save a life. Last year, 385 people’s lives were saved in NSW thanks to 144 donors.
NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service General Manager, Danielle Fisher, says organ donation is crucial.
“With around 1,700 people on Australian transplant waiting lists at any one time, you can make a real difference in the lives of others by registering as a donor and then telling your family,” she says.
“Families play a crucial role in the donation process because they are asked to confirm whether their loved one wanted to be a donor.
“We know that nine in 10 families agree to a donation when their family member is registered, which is why registration and talking to your family are so important.”
Go to the DonateLife website for more information about organ donation.
To follow Mark along on his journey, visit the ‘Ride to DonateLife’ Facebook page.