In 1988, I ran my first international marathon in Paris in aid of CORDA (now part of Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity). Little did I realise, that in 2012 I would need the services of this hospital for a lifesaving double heart bypass.

Running saved my life… In 2011, I completed the Milan marathon in 4 hours 23 minutes, my slowest time ever. I put this down to the hot conditions – it was about 30 degrees at the finish. Some months later, I was struggling to keep running for three or more kilometres without having to walk, recover and then get going again. I realised it had to be a problem with my heart and I instigated a series of tests. My consultant finally discovered a 99% blockage to my heart. Five days later I had my double heart bypass, otherwise known as a widow maker. I also needed the services of the Royal Brompton again when I had a heart ablation in 2017.

Not only did Royal Brompton save my life, but also those of many of my close family. My mother was a patient at Royal Brompton Hospital for more than twenty years with a mitral valve problem. Later, she received a pacemaker there. My granddaughter has cystic fibrosis and goes for appointments at the Brompton. The staff there also repaired a hole in her heart when she was born in 2002.

I am pleased to be back running again and this weekend, I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity. Half of the money I raise will go to the Charity’s cystic fibrosis appeal, Back in the Driving Seat, and the other half will go towards the charity's #ManyMoreHearts Catheter Laboratory Appeal.

- Sean

We wish Sean all the very best with this Sunday's marathon! You can sponsor him here.  

Sean has also written a book about the joy of running, and hopes it will inspire others to join the 'marathon train' and see where it takes them.

Click here for Marathon Adventures Across Europe and Beyond: Thirty Years of Running Pain and Pleasure by Sean A. O’Reilly