“Why I will never forget the courageous people I have met on this trip”

Many of you have been keenly following the Defenders 4 Kidney team as it visits Kidney Transplant centres up and down the UK to raise vital funds for two leading kidney charities. Barry Jacobs, the man behind the idea, spoke to the Transport Exchange Group about the brave people he’s met and their inspirational stories…

“Hello, and thank you to everyone who has been following our every move using the Transport Exchange Group’s Live Mapping system. Those of you tracking our journey in real-time will know that we’ve just five days left of our adventure to run, and will be in Newcastle today.

For anyone reading this post for the first time, we set off eleven days ago in six vintage and modern Land Rovers on a mission to visit 21 Kidney transplant centres across the UK and raise £50,000 for Kidney Research UK and Kids Kidney Research in the process.

Defenders 4 Kidneys team outside Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead – Day 1 of their 16 day journey

Thank you so much for all your very generous donations. We’ve raised £21,643 so far, but still need to find another £28,357 to meet our target. So please continue to give generously.

For someone who has lost both kidneys, but has been lucky enough to receive a replacement, the journey has stirred a myriad of emotions. There have been poignant moments. Take for example, our meeting with a small boy and his parents at Bristol Children’s Hospital. He has no kidneys and spends many hours each week hooked up to a dialysis machine just to stay alive. We couldn’t offer him much. We gave him a teddy bear and a wrist band, but his parents told us that our visit helped to break the crippling monotony of him spending another day chained to a dialysis machine. This visit, like so many others, really crystalised our objectives, and has made us even more determined to raise awareness and to reach our £50,000 goal. Please continue to give whatever you can.

There have been incredibly uplifting moments too. When we reached Glasgow last week for example, we were greeted by a lone piper, who welcomed us with the Scottish National anthem, ‘O Flower of Scotland’. He, and everyone else we encountered that day, had a powerful and evocative story of self-sacrifice to tell. One of the nurses, for example, congratulated us on our achievement, but she was the real hero, not us. She didn’t let on, but it later became clear to us that had bravely and selflessly donated one of her kidneys – even though she didn’t know the recipient.

Barry Defenders 4 Kidneys Courier Exchange

Barry Jacobs pictured on the left

On the road too, on our way to the transplant and renal replacement therapy centres, it has been quite remarkable how many people have been touched by our journey, and most importantly, the cause we’re raising money for. Yesterday, for instance, we were having lunch just outside Newcastle. A lady had seen the ‘Defenders 4 Kidneys’ stickers on our Land Rovers. She came over to us and was suddenly very emotional. She’d lost her husband to Kidney Cancer, and our journey really resonated with her. We’ve met so many more people along the way with similar heartrending stories to tell. We hope that the money we raise, and the awareness that such a journey brings, can make a difference to the many thousands of people living without kidneys, not to mention their friends, families and hospital staff who work tirelessly to support them too.

So, please help us to help them to help those most in need.”

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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