Air cadets officer donates life-saving kidney to nine-year-old boy and then embarks on 80-mile fundraiser
Nine-year-old Joshua Dolan's future has been changed forever thanks to the life-saving donation from Flight Lieutenant (RAFAC) Graham Dodds.
Police Service of Northern Ireland Ch Insp Graham heard about Joshua's appeal in a local paper and discovered he was a suitable match.
Joshua's mother Mary, from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, said it was a miracle a donor was found. Joshua Dolan had only one kidney that was poorly functioning and he had to travel to Belfast three times a week for a four-hour dialysis session to keep him alive.
Mary Dolan said the dialysis left her son feeling very tired and prevented him carrying out normal activities such as going to school or taking part in social activities. His condition was life-threatening, as well as life-limiting and a kidney donation was his only chance. Despite family members and friends being tested, no match had been found for Joshua and the outlook for him was bleak.
"He's had a hard time these past months. It's very heartbreaking for a mum to watch," she added.
Flt Lt Graham Dodds said: "What stood out for me was Joshua's story and despite very trying circumstances, his happy smile and determination. When I saw Joshua's appeal I just thought 'that's perfect for me, it's a local lad and if I can help I will'.
"To me as a RAFAC Commissioned Officer my whole raison d'être is to help young people and to do all I can to help make my local community a better place. I think that is something instilled in me to the core as an officer, but as a human being, to me it's a natural thing to want to help someone.”
"My relatively small act of giving up an organ that I didn't actually need will have a massive impact for his life and his family, when it will have a fairly minor impact on mine," Graham added.
"I underwent four hours of surgery and a couple of months recovery period but I am now back to normal and would recommend live donation to anyone considering it."
The operation to give Joshua his new kidney took place in May 2021 and both Graham and Joshua are recovering well.
To aid that recovery, Graham is now taking on the RAF Air Cadets 80 Miles in 80 Days challenge. The fundraiser marks the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the cadets and will raise money for the RAF Air Cadets General Purpose Fund and the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF's leading welfare charity. The challenge reaches its halfway point this weekend, after its launch on 1 June.
Michelle Jeffcott, Community Fundraiser for the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "To change someone's life in this way is truly inspiring. Not content with donating his kidney, Graham is now using his recovery as an opportunity to help even more people. Graham embodies the very ethos of military service, there for the good of others.
"The air cadets and the RAF Benevolent Fund have a long history of working together. As a charity which supports the RAF Family, the Fund has always been able to rely on support from the cadets in this mission with everything from fundraising efforts to supporting veterans and serving personnel at Fund events."
To find out more about the 80 Miles in 80 Days challenge visit rafbf.org/aircadets.
The top fundraisers, one under 18 years old and one above 18 years old, will win a unique flight with The Blades on 2 September at Sywell Aerodrome. Winners will be based on the fundraising amount logged on their Enthuse fundraising page by 22 August.
To sponsor Graham go to his fundraising site.