“An end to our epic Land Rover journey, but my quest to raise awareness of kidney disease continues…”

Our 2,500-mile drive, which many of you have been tracking using the Transport Exchange Group’s live mapping system, draws to a close this weekend.

Thank you to all of you who have followed us in our Land Rover Defenders for the last fortnight as we’ve raised vital funds for Kidney Research UK. You’re probably already aware of the great work carried out by this wonderful charity. But for those of you who don’t know, each year around 60,000 people with kidney failure are alive today – me included – thanks to the Charity’s cutting-edge research.

A big thank you to everyone who has already made a donation through our Just Giving page. We’ve raised £20,172 so far, but still need another £29,828 to hit our £50,000 target. We may be on the last leg of our odyssey, but it’s not too late to donate. Our web page will remain open for quite a while yet.

Special thanks to the Transport Exchange Group too. In an unexpected but extremely welcome turn of events, we were met by it’s CEO, Lyall Cresswell and Managing Director, Marc Cliffton yesterday. They presented us with a £5,000 cheque at Nottingham City Hospital. Given that the Exchange has been providing expert tracking for the entire journey, I guess he knew where to find us!

Defenders 4 Kidneys Transport Exchange Group

Looking back, it’s been a journey that I’ll never forget. There have been many highlights. Using green lanes, we’ve driven our Defenders through some of the most spectacular and challenging off-road tracks in the UK. We’ve crossed hauntingly beautiful moorland, muddy forest trails, scenic rivers, quiet brooks; and encountered some of the UK’s deepest lakes on our trip.

But, for the team and me, it’s the courage, dignity and determination of the extraordinary people we have met that really stands out. The ability of those living without kidneys to overcome monumental challenges every hour of every day – without ever complaining – is an example to all of us. So too are the selfless medical staff and family members who care for them. Finally, a special mention to the self-sacrificing donors, who have given people like me – and so many others –  a second shot at life.

leeds hospital Defenders 4 Kidneys

In my last post, I spoke about some of those brave people I had encountered. But, I wanted to devote this piece to telling you about a patient I met in Bristol Hospital. When we visited the kidney transplant centre last week, one of the nurses approached us and said that there was a patient who wanted to meet us. When we walked into his room, he told us that he was about to receive a kidney. He had received the phone call to come to the hospital at 3am and nearly 12 hours later, he was tired, hungry and thirsty. He’d no food or drink during that time and it was clear from his face that he was anxious and stressed too. However, he didn’t want us to feel sorry for him, nor was he feeling sorry for himself.

But, having received a kidney myself, I knew exactly what he was going through. I remember lying in a hospital bed counting down the hours and minutes. I also remember it wasn’t a time to be alone. Therefore, I sat down next to him and told him about my experience, and about the life I enjoy now. I think, it not only reassured him but also helped break the dreadful monotony that kidney transplant patients often experience before surgery.

As I finish my journey, I wish him the best of luck in his recovery, and hope that successful surgery and the world-class aftercare offered by the NHS, will enable him and his family to pen an exciting new chapter in their lives.

It’s one, of course that cannot be written without the help of Kidney Research UK, and most importantly the great British public. For it’s your generous donations that give charities like Kidney Research and Kids Kidney Research the funding for scientists to make those game-changing scientific breakthroughs which save and transform lives.

So, please give what you can to help…

Defenders 4 Kidneys is raising money and awareness of Kidney disease. All the money raised for Kidney Research UK and Kids Kidney Research will help Kidney Research UK to improve patient engagement at these centres. If you wish to make a donation, you can do so by clicking here.

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