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James circumnavigates Sri Lanka in an auto-rickshaw for St George's!

6th January 2020

Our fundraisers do amazing things. And we wouldn’t be able to make the impact we do without each and every one of them.

This is James Garnett’s story:

“At the age of 21 I was diagnosed with end-stage FSGS, a genetic renal condition that had irreversibly damaged my kidneys. I had recently graduated from music college in London studying drums and percussion and was preparing for an imminent 6-month dream tour of Canada and the USA with my band.”

“However, around that time, I had begun to lose my vision and after some basic tests at various hospitals, I was brought to the amazing staff on Buckland ward at St Georges Hospital. It was those staff who eventually diagnosed me with end-stage renal failure. At the age of 21, with my music career just beginning, this was a massive shock – but  with the truly amazing help of my family and the skilled staff at St George’s, my sister (who at only 18 years old was the youngest donor at the hospital ever) successfully donated a kidney to me.”

“Without all these amazing people I wouldn’t have the life I do today, and I remember that over 11 years ago when I was at home recovering with my family, I decided I would live life to the full and repay all these fantastic people.”

“Since then, thanks to the renal team, I’ve been very fortunate to enjoy good health and get back on my feet and really enjoy life. I like to keep active and enjoy lots of sports and work hard as a professional musician. I also try and visit and support my sister as much as possible, even though I can never truly repay her for what she did.”

“After a few years, I also decided I wanted to try and raise money for kidney charities and for my first fundraiser, I trekked my way through the sweltering desert, perilous jungle terrain and dirt-track coastal "highways" in an auto-rickshaw, (nothing more than a glorified lawnmower) travelling over 3500 kilometres from north to south India in two and a half weeks.”

“With life inevitably getting in the way, 6 years passed since the India charity race, and I was really motivated to take on another fundraising challenge. My mum had developed FSGS and was now on dialysis and seeing the dialysis wards and the exceptional work of the nurses and doctors again spurred me on to sort out a new fundraising trip. I decided to focus on raising money for St. Georges this time.”

“Reunited with my India teammate Fred, we decided we would try to circumnavigate the whole of Sri Lanka in a week, covering around 1500 kilometres in an auto-rickshaw again.  We were determined to raise more money this time too and worked hard on social media, running fundraising parties and games nights which were a lot of fun.”

“The trip soon came around and we set off on our Sri Lankan adventure! Starting on the west coast we travelled through endless rice paddies, vast mountainous colonial tea plantations in the north before arriving on the stunning east coast with its picturesque beaches. The trip was going well despite challenging terrain and occasional thunderstorms! Our little rickshaw kept going and took us right into the heart of vast nature reserves where driving past majestic elephants on the roadside was a highlight of the trip. We completed the race hugging the entire bustling south coast.”

Sri Lanka is a fascinating little country and well worth a visit. We only got lost and broke down a few times and managed to complete our memorable race raising more money than we aimed for! We’d love to now raise £1500 and if you feel like donating please check out the link below. I'm looking forward to my next fundraising challenge whatever that may be and continuing to help raise money for St George’s Hospital so they can continue the vital work they do day in day out.”

Donate to James’ fundraising challenge at his VirginMoney Giving page here.






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