With every step he takes, humbled Mark Smith pays thanks to three people who gave him a new lease of life.
Super-fundraiser Mark is ploughing through a bucket list of adventures and challenges after a vital double transplant.
From the bleakest of futures, he now has a new zest for life and has become a proud father of two.
None of it would be possible but for organs donated by Adam Rogers, a 24-year-old peacemaker who was killed when he tried to stop a fight.
Mark has pledged to make every single day count in Adam’s memory.
And backing his endeavours are Adam’s proud parents Pat and Dave Rogers.
They have become firm friends after Mark, 47, sent the couple – at that stage anonymous – a thank-you letter, via a transplant co-ordinator.
Mark, who had a lifesaving kidney and pancreas transplant, had just become a dad after years of trying for a family with his wife Caroline, 40.
He explained: “I wanted to share this amazing news with my donor’s family, how their gift hadn’t just saved one life, it had created a new life, a family.”
Just two weeks later he got a reply, and after more letters they finally met up in the summer of 2011 – on the second anniversary of his transplants.
Pat, 67, and Dave, 86, told Mark how Adam had signed up to the organ donor register – and they honoured his wishes after he was killed in Bradford, West Yorks. A teenager was sentenced to four years for manslaughter.
Pat said: “Hugging Mark was so special, feeling his heart beat and knowing we’d done the right thing in the middle of a horrendous situation.
“Adam would’ve been a lovely dad, so seeing that Mark and Caroline had managed to become parents because of Adam was especially touching.”
Mark could empathise with the couple’s pain after losing a younger brother in a road accident a few years earlier.
He also learned how Adam’s organs saved four other lives – his lungs went to a 66-year-old man, his heart to a 53-year-old, his liver to a 54-year-old and one of his kidneys went to a boy aged six.
All recipients sent letters of thanks – but, unlike Mark, none had met up with Pat and Dave.
The couple told Mark they had set up a charity – Every Action Has Consequences – in Adam’s memory.
It provides information to young people on binge-drinking, violence and anger-management.
“It seemed obvious that all of us saw this as an opportunity to make the world a better place and I pledged I’d do anything I could to help,” Mark said.
“Meeting Dave and Pat for the first time was the most heartbreaking but also life-affirming moment ever.
"Their son had saved my life and they made that happen through their ultimate altruism.
“But I also realised the massive hole they now had in their family.
“I showed Dave and Pat a photo of our 12-month-old daughter Emily, telling them how that wouldn’t have been possible without Adam’s organs.
“Straightaway they showed me a photo of their new grandson, also named Adam, who was the same age as Emily. In that moment I knew this might be the start of something really special.
“That night I sat at my computer and started writing a list of all the challenges I would take on, to raise money for charity and awareness of organ donation.”
Mark has climbed Snowdon, taken part in Transplant Games three times, hiked the Yorkshire Three Peaks, scaled 3,195ft Ben Lomond – and over six days trekked the 88-mile length of Hadrian’s Wall.
Pat, and Caroline’s father John, joined Mark on Hadrian’s Wall – raising over £1,750 for Kidney Care UK – while Dave provided en-route support.
Mark went on: “During those eight days of wind, rain and all the elements you can think of, we chatted endlessly about Adam, about our own happiness, our loves and dreams.
“It’s during those times that you really bond and we knew from then on we’d be friends for life, closer than any of us could have imagined.”
Mark has joined a string of charity groups and completed a number of other walks and climbs.
A black tie dinner in Harrogate topped £11,000 and in total he has raised more than £15,000 for Kidney Care UK, the Donor Family Network and the Harrogate Dialysis Unit.
Mark finds his new energy and vigour a joy after a 25-year battle to control his type 1 diabetes with daily insulin injections and his diet.
By his mid-30s he was experiencing complications with his sight, bladder and stomach – and was put on the transplant waiting list after suffering kidney failure.
He said: “Waiting for that all-important call saying a compatible pancreas and kidney had been found was horrific, knowing I would die without them – and mine and Caroline’s dreams of having family would be gone.”
Then, in the summer of 2009, Mark got the call that changed his life.
Caroline, a biomedical scientist, drove him from their home in Harrogate, North Yorks, to Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he had the eight-hour transplants.
Two weeks later he was home.
He admitted: “I was filled with a massive sense of joy and gratitude, but also of guilt, that someone else had to die for me to live.”
It was months later that Caroline conceived – and Emily was born in September 2010.
In 2015 the couple adopted baby daughter Ellie.
Mark used to be a corporate manager with RBS but is now a motivational speaker, giving talks to charities and local interest groups. And Adam remains a constant inspiration.
He added: “Not only have the new organs given to me by the Rogers family given me a new lease of life, they have defined and shaped who I am, what I do.
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