Brother sets up charity in memory of sister who gave people the gift of life

Claire Gardiner who died of a brain tumour. Brother Edd Gardiner is now raising money in her memory through new charity Madathlon
Claire Gardiner who died of a brain tumour. Brother Edd Gardiner is now raising money in her memory through new charity Madathlon
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A BROTHER has set up a charity in memory of his sister, who gave four people the gift of life.

Claire Gardiner was 30 when she died suddenly after suffering from migraines for weeks.

(L-R) Rob Shields, Edd Gardiner,  Helen Richardson, Gayle Gardiner and Lauren Coad.

(L-R) Rob Shields, Edd Gardiner, Helen Richardson, Gayle Gardiner and Lauren Coad.

The St John Ambulance driver and motorbike enthusiast had been diagnosed with a 10cm by 10cm brain tumour.

However, surgeons at the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, could not operate because her brain was too swollen, and she died on December 20 last year.

Claire, formerly of Eppleton, Hetton, worked for DHL in the NHS supply chain and was a registered organ donor.

When Claire was pronounced dead, doctors asked her mum Donella, 50, if she would allow her daughter’s organs to be donated.

Her brother Edd, 29, said it was a tough experience.

“It was hard,” he said. “My mum had to make that decision minutes after they told us Claire was dead, even though she had a donor card.

“Claire decided when she was 17 that she would like to donate her organs.

“It was just before Christmas and, in a way, I think she gave those people the best present they could ever get.”

The donation helped save three people in their 20s and one man in his 60s.

In honour of Claire, also sister to Matt, 26, Edd has founded Madathlon, to raise money for the Intensive Care Unit at James Cook University Hospital, as well as awareness of NHS organ donation.

“I wanted to raise money because of the way they looked after my sister, but also the way they looked after all of us, especially my mum,” said Edd.

“She’s happy we’re doing something in my sister’s memory. She finds comfort in it, and it has given me something to focus on.”

Edd, along with Claire’s friends Robert Shields, 31, and Laura Lineton, 25, has already raised about £10,000 to buy equipment for the ICU by taking part in the National Three Peaks Challenge, the Coast 2 Coast and the Great North Swim.

He said: “Everyone wanted to do different events, so I suggested doing all three for a kind of ‘mad’ triathlon, hence where the name ‘Madathlon’ comes from.

“We did them within days of each other. They were all really tough, and people – including me – were injured.

“I think Claire would be proud of what we are doing.

“For some things that we’ve done, though, like struggling in the Coast 2 Coast, I reckon she would be looking down and laughing at us, but she would be proud.”

As well as raising money for the ICU, Madathlon will raise money for Blood Bikes.

Volunteer bikers, supported by charitable funding, carry vital medical items such as blood, biological samples, medical notes, x-rays and scans to hospitals.

Edd said: “It’s a good cause for us because it fits in with Claire’s cause – she was an organ donor and a biker.”

For details, visit the Madathlon Facebook community page.