Life is great for runner who donated kidney to his mum

When his mother fell seriously ill with kidney disease, her son knew just what to do


Just months after undergoing surgery to give his mother one of his kidneys, 31-year-old Nicolas Miltiadous is busy running marathons both to prove his quality of life has been unaffected and to raise funds for a kidney charity.

Miltiadous, a staff sergeant in the national guard from Nicosia, underwent surgery last November at the Nicosia general hospital to remove one of his kidneys which was then successfully transplanted into his mother. Although she still has to take medication, she no longer has to undergo daily haemodialysis treatment.

“I was always under the impression that donating a kidney would mean a loss of quality of life and that the donor wouldn’t be able to do the things they did before,” Miltiadous told the Sunday Mail. “This is absolutely not true and I want to show that life is great after this procedure, and that it can be even better than before.”

The soldier said that he had been reassured by his surgeon and the ‘fantastic’ medical team in Nicosia that after a recovery period his fitness and health would not be compromised.

“Of course, it’s painful to have an organ removed that is obvious, it’s major surgery and after I was discharged I had to have two months off work. My mother, Marlette, had three months, but we are both fine now.”

Marlette is American and has lived in Cyprus for the last 28 years. She met her Cypriot husband at college in the US and works for the UN in Cyprus.

Diagnosed with kidney failure which doctors believe may have been caused by chronically high blood pressure, Marlette was hooked up to a haemodialysis unit at home, needing treatment every four hours. She would have to race home every lunch break to connect to the machine for treatment, before returning to work. This was followed by a year of treatment every night.

Nicolas in action

Miltiadous said it was difficult to witness the mental and physical effects the treatment had on his mother, who had previously been so active and cheerful.

The soldier, his parents and his siblings (he has two brothers and two sisters) are a close-knit family and he decided to take matters into his own hands by donating one of his kidneys to his mother.

He didn’t discuss it with his brothers or sisters, initially just informing his mum of what he wanted to do. At first, she refused his suggestion, saying she would rather die than take one of her son’s organs.

“But I asked her to respect what I wanted to do, and in the end she did.”

The pair were unaware of what this decision entailed and a barrage of tests on both followed, including blood, urine and an MRI scan. Miltiadous said he was carrying some extra body weight at the time as he was recovering from a work injury which affected his lower back. A year ahead of the operation, the surgeon told him to lose as much weight as possible to bring him close to his ideal weight to ensure the operation had the highest possible successful outcome.

This inspired him to take up running and participating in marathons at home and abroad.

Two weeks before his November 2018 surgery, the soldier ran the Athens marathon and one week before the operation, he completed a 10K race in Larnaca.

“The surgeon and the entire team reassured me again that what I would go through wouldn’t affect me in the long term as I planned to continue running.”

After a lengthy surgery, he had to remain in hospital for five days, his mother for a week.

Whilst recovering, Miltiadous started running small distances – very carefully – and said that already just four months after his operation, he feels even better than he did previously.

Only two months after surgery he competed in a 12KM race and on Sunday, March 24 broke his personal best, running the half marathon in Limassol.

“Doctors suggested that I could help to raise awareness of kidney transplants and donors and demonstrate that it doesn’t affect you physically in any way afterwards. Many people are even born with one kidney and never know about it, living perfectly healthy lives,” he said.

Miltiadous is also raising awareness and much-needed funds for the Paphos Kidney Association.

“This organisation and the people involved are amazing, which is why I want to support them,” he said.

Graham Brown, the chairman of the Paphos Kidney Association, which spends the funds it raises on equipment for the renal unit at Paphos general hospital, said he is delighted by the cooperation with the solider.

“We want to get more Cypriots involved and Nicolas has so many great ideas, we are thrilled,” he said.

Brown has hereditary polycystic kidney disease and receives regular dialysis treatment at the unit to keep him alive. Each of the hemodiafiltration (HDF) machines at the unit comes with a €25,000 price tag. The charity has donated three of them. If a patient doesn’t receive dialysis when needed, they will die within five days.

Funds for the new renal unit have been brought forward from the 2021 budget as a matter of urgency, said Brown, and the new facility is due to be completed by the end of 2021, although adding the 25 beds will still not be enough, he said.

In the meantime, the current renal unit will expand to create eight new beds. The unit currently has 14 beds.

“There are 87 patients in Paphos undergoing treatment and more than 20 on the waiting list. Death by kidney failure is now the 6th fastest growing cause of death in the world,” he said.

This is mainly due to lifestyle. Diet, a lack of exercise, use of painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

There are 850 million people with kidney problems and 80,000 in Cyprus, he added.

“Last year, 2.4 million people were killed by kidney problems.”

Miltiadous is planning to run aboard again in the coming months and will participate in the marathon in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May and then the Athens marathon in full combat gear, raising funds for the Paphos Kidney Association.

They will set up a dedicated ‘go fund me’ page for this race.

“I will wear my combat gear, boots, chest rig and a backpack. I’d like to help the Paphos Kidney Association in any way possible.”

The runner’s brother, Erodotos Miltiadous, is the president of the Cyprus sports journalists’ society and is also helping his brother to raise awareness of the cause.

“Just because you donate a kidney life doesn’t finish.”



Cyprus transplant association: Paphos kidney association: