Keith Eades and Diane Plimmer both got a second chance at life thanks to a heart and a pair of lungs from the same organ donor.

Now the pair are attempting an Auckland Harbour Bridge run on October 29 to show they're not taking the gift of life for granted.

Eades was born in the UK with the rare Holt-Oram Syndrome, resulting most obviously in shortened arms and a heart condition. He was admitted to Middlemore Hospital in May 2016 with breathing issues, and his health quickly deteriorated.

"I just didn't have the energy or the confidence to walk around the shops or outside the house, let alone go to work."


Plimmer, from Hawke's Bay, was born with the genetic condition Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Her health worsened until she could barely walk to the letterbox and back.

But last year both Eades and Plimmer had their lives turned around. In July 2016, he got a new heart, and she received a new pair of lungs.

Recovering together in intensive care and then in the same ward, they got talking, "put two and two together and realized we shared the same donor", Plimmer said.

"That has developed into a very special friendship, an amazing bond. Unless you have been through this it is hard to describe."

For Plimmer the lungs are a gift that she's determined to pay back.

"The donor gave me this gift and I am going to do all I can to keep these lungs in the best condition I can and get out there and enjoy life."

While recovering both lived at Heart Towers, the New Zealand Heart & Lungs Service's rehabilitation unit in Greenlane. Their physiotherapist set them a goal of walking up One Tree Hill - which they achieved in October last year with spouses Caroline and Grant.

Now the two couples are doing the 12km John West Traverse as a team.

Eades hopes his story will inspire someone who is still in a hospital bed, unsure of what their future holds.

"While it may be an uncomfortable process you go through initially, the benefits long-term are such that you can lead a normal life, you can go out and achieve your goals, and just because you have had a heart transplant you're not held back," he said.

"You are only held back by yourself, you are not held back physically, so running or walking is an ideal opportunity to get back onto the road of normal life."