Making the most of a second chance at life

Two years after undergoing a kidney transplant, Conal Beban is determined to give back to those who helped him on his journey.

Recovering from a kidney transplant in 2022, Conal Beban picked up his phone to send a message to his friend.

“Bro your kidney is the shit. 60% function today and they think it could get to 90%. Champion.”

Conal, from Wakefield, near Nelson had just undergone surgery at Christchurch Hospital, five years after receiving the devastating news he was at end stage renal failure and would eventually need a new kidney, once his condition deteriorated enough to require the operation.

It was his friend of 20 years, Andy Bryant, who voluntarily put his hand up to offer Conal one of his.

“After the operation, we were both recovering in Christchurch Hospital – we were only separated by one floor. For me, having a new kidney – one as good as Andy’s – was like winning the lottery.

“Friends share many things in common, but it’s not often you can say you’ve shared an organ…that’s pretty special.”

After returning to his family home, Conal was called back to Christchurch Hospital. His kidney was not “draining properly” to his bladder, and an additional procedure was needed to help the healing process.

Over the course of his stay in Christchurch, Conal spent several stints at Rānui House. For him it was “a refuge” – a place that gave him the support and space to heal, so he could return home.

Rānui House, owned and operated by the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust, provides a home away from home for patients and their families needing to travel to Christchurch for often life-saving medical treatment.

“Staying at Rānui House took all the stress out of the equation – I didn’t have to worry about food or paying for accommodation. It meant I could simply focus on my recovery. I am immensely grateful to the team at Rānui House for everything they did for me.”

Two years on, Conal says he has a “deep appreciation” for the time he spent at Rānui House.

“Just having an apartment to call my own was incredible. The staff were so helpful, and they made you feel right at home. Now that I’ve recovered, I want to be able to give back to them, because they helped me so much on my journey.”

Recently, Conal started fundraising for Rānui House as part of its Run for Rānui House fundraiser, in partnership with the Frontrunner Christchurch Marathon. In preparation for his 10-kilometre run, Conal has tripled his weekly mileage, covering more than 40 kilometres a week.

“I wanted to do something to give back to Rānui House, and I figured the least I could do is run a few kilometres to try and raise some money. They are an amazing team, with hearts of gold. I knew this was something I could do to say thank you.”

Raising well over $6,000 for the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust, Conal says the outpouring of support “far exceeded his expectations” and goes to show there’s strength in numbers.

Bone Marrow Cancer Trust Chief Executive Mandy Kennedy says she has an “enormous amount of admiration for Conal and his commitment to the cause”.

“I am so grateful to Conal for the work he’s done to champion our cause. As well as helping raise important funds, he’s helped put Rānui House in the spotlight, letting people know about the work we do to help patients and families during their most trying times.”