01 Oct 2015

Remarkable best friends walk for kidney research


When Amanda Stephens wanted to thank her best friend for changing her life, she also decided to raise money for a good cause.

Just two years ago Jenni, Amanda’s best friend, donated one of her kidneys in a rare friend-to-friend organ transplant.

Before the successful surgery, Amanda had been receiving dialysis for over 18 months, for up to eight hours each night.

With her new found health, Amanda decided to give something back and this summer invited Jenni to walk 100km of the Via Francigena in Italy and England to raise funds for the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund.

Thanks for excellent care

The Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund (NIKRF) is a voluntary organisation that supports research and treatment of kidney disease.

“I really wanted to do something in return for the excellent care I received from the City Hospital in Belfast while going through this process and for the NIKRF who support them in their work,” says Amanda, “And to also take time with Jenni to say thanks for all that she had done too.”

The long walk

Starting out from Italy in July, the duo walked just over 100km of the Via Francigena, completing stretches in Florence, Rome and the final route between Canterbury and Dover in August.

“It went really well,” says a happy Amanda. “There was a heatwave in Italy this year which made the walk a little more difficult. We were consistent with our fluid intake as dehydration could happen easily, and we also had to walk more slowly than we’d planned. Other than that it was great!”

Make every penny count

Amanda had hoped to raise £200 but smashed her target receiving over £300 with MyDonate.

“Kidney research is really important to me as it’s still unclear why my kidneys stopped working. Going with MyDonate meant there was no commission on the money raised so the maximum amount would get to the charity and support their research and services.”

She adds: “It was really easy to set up my page - even on my phone while I was in Italy! It's free to do and I was able to keep people regularly updated by adding pictures and saying how far we had walked.”

“It’s great that the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund are signed up to the site, as this makes it really easy for donations to go through.”


You can give to Amanda and Jenni’s walking challenge with MyDonate

Find out more about the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund

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