Climbing 214 peaks in the Lake District for Kidney Care UK

The Wainwright Challenge sees individuals climb the 214 peaks in the Lake District as described in Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.

It is believed that Steve is the only person to have completed the route having started the challenge as someone with kidney failure, undertaken it while on dialysis and completed it having had a kidney transplant.

After a routine health check at work in 2011, Steve Harrison was told to visit hospital with raised blood pressure. Little did he realise this would lead to the discovery that he only had one kidney! His kidney was only functioning at 27% and he was told that meant he had chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 and that he would need a transplant in future. After a few years, Steve’s kidney function had fallen to 9%, and as the pandemic struck, Steve opted to do a type of home dialysis called peritoneal dialysis. Through testing to see if she could donate one of her kidneys Donna also discovered that she too had CKD, which meant she couldn’t donate to Steve and he was added to the transplant waiting list.

The life-changing call arrived at almost 1am on 7 December 2020. Steve headed to Leeds where he spent 11 days in hospital as his new kidney took a few days to start working properly. Throughout this time he and Donna were not allowed to see each other but he finally made it home two days before his birthday. Following the transplant he now has 98% kidney function and Donna and Steve are committed to living life to the full again.

Donna and Steve Harrison selfie in the mountains

The couple completed 100 of the peaks between 2015 and Sept 2019, as well as six whilst Steve was on dialysis. This left 108 to complete once his transplant was successful. From May 2021 they swung back into action. It has taken another 16 months but they have finally completed this iconic challenge.

Donna and Steve chose to dedicate their final climb to everyone living with kidney disease and wanted to raise awareness for Kidney Care UK to thank the charity for the support we have provided to the couple.

Donna told us: “We started this adventure at Coniston by having a walk up Coniston Old Man. Little did we realise that this was the start of a fantastic journey which has taken us to the most scenic parts of the lakes, and met the most wonderful, kind and generous people along the way. That’s why we wanted our final walk to be Wetherlam near Coniston. It felt like we were coming full circle and it was amazing to finish the challenge with so many friends we’d met along the way, including Kidney Care UK. Without the help & support of the charity during, pre- and post-transplant both Steve and I would have really struggled.”

Donna Harrison, Steve Harrison, and Sarah Castleman selfie

Sarah Castleman, our Challenge Events Manager, accompanied Donna and Steve on their final Wainwright on Thursday 14 September. She adds: “Donna and Steve are truly inspiring. What they have achieved over the last eight years, and finally accomplished today, is astounding and we’re honoured that they have chosen to dedicate this final climb to all the other kidney warriors out there, and to raise money for Kidney Care UK. This Organ Donation Week Donna and Steve really are proof of the life-changing impact that a kidney transplant can have.”

You can donate to Donna and Steve’s challenge on their Just Giving page.

Organ Donation Week 2023

This Organ Donation Week, please think about how you feel about donating your organs and talk about this with your loved ones. Make sure you register your decision on the Organ Donor Register.

Find more information about transplantation and how it changes lives on our Kidney transplantation information hub.