JAMES Haley’s life was turned upside down when a rare virus attacked his heart and resulted in him losing half his body weight.
After recovering from life-saving surgery to replace a heart valve destroyed by the virus the former rugby player took up running and is now preparing to run the Jane Tomlinson Run For All Leeds 10k to raise money for charity.
“I used to play rugby and I liked to think that I was a fairly fit guy and this virus destroyed me,” he said.
Mr Haley, 37, of East Bierley, Bradford, played rugby league at international level as a student and went on to captain Dudley Hill Rugby League and play rugby union for Cleckheaton. His illness, four years ago, saw his weight plunge from 17 stone to nine stone.
He had felt unwell for a number of months but it was only after he was taken to hospital as an emergency that doctors found out what was wrong. Scans were taken which revealed the virus had destroyed his heart valve and he had to have a life-saving operation to fit an artificial valve.
The endocarditis infection meant he had to give up playing rugby but doctors told him he could still keep fit. Mr Haley, general manager at the family business Spen Bearings, in Cleckheaton, has now taken up running and has already completed the Great North run and several 10k events.
It will be the first time he has run the Run For All Leeds 10K.
He will run the Leeds 10k for the British Heart Foundation and Take Heart, based at Leeds General Infirmary. Sponsor Mr Haley at: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/jimmysdickyticker
For information about any of the Jane Tomlinson events visit www.forallevents.co.uk The Leeds 10k takes place on July 8. The Yorkshire Post is a media partner for the event.