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Transplant duo gear up for fundraising rally

Two transplant surgeons from the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) are gearing up for the 3,700 mile Plymouth to Banjul Rally, in a bid to raise money for charities in the Gambia and for Manchester kidney and pancreas transplant research, and to raise awareness of the need for more organ donors. Hany Riad and Titus Augustine will launch their fundraising drive at a special themed evening at The Living Room on Deansgate on 28th November. The event will include food and entertainment from the areas they will travel through in the three-week long rally before reaching Banjul in The Gambia. Locations en route include the UK, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal. The Living Room is generously providing the venue, food and staff free of charge. Justin Moorhouse of Key 103 is giving his time to host the evening together with adding to the entertainment. Paul Lockitt, also from Key 103 hopes to provide daily progress reports during his breakfast news programme with Titus and Hany throughout the rally. The Plymouth to Banjul Rally 2008 takes place between October 07 and January 08 and over a hundred teams drive across a wide variety of terrain, including mountains and deserts, from Plymouth to Gambia. It started in 2003 as an ironic tribute to the Paris-Dakar rally. Instead of highly expensive cars driven by world class rally drivers, with large back-up teams, this challenge consists of small teams on strictly limited budgets, and at the end of the challenge, the cars are auctioned for the benefit of local good causes. Most teams taking part will be raising money for various charities. A left-hand drive 4 x 4 Toyota has been donated to the duo by Synergy, a company which develops educational programmes for healthcare professionals, patients and their carers. Synergy has also worked in the field of transplantation for many years. In addition to being delighted to be associated with the Transplant Titans’ drive to Gambia, they are proud supporters of the Project HOPE (Health Opportunities of People Everywhere) charity as well as having directly supported innovative transplant projects in the former Eastern Europe. Pharmaceutical firms Genzyme and Wyeth have also sponsored the Rally campaign to help cover costs. Hany and Titus have dubbed their team ‘Transplant Titans’ and they are in Group 9 which departs Plymouth on the 11th of January reaching Banjul on the 1st of February. They are being supported by family, friends, colleagues and patients - many of whom are paying £5 to autograph the Rally vehicle - in their bid to raise around £5,000. They are also approaching corporate donors to support their efforts. Half the sum they raise will go to the MRI Transplant Charitable Fund, and the rest to Pageant, a charity, which supports education and related projects in The Gambia. “We decided to take part in the 2008 rally after reading about it in a magazine,” explained Titus. “We felt that in addition to being a change from our hectic professional lives, we would be doing something for charity and also highlighting transplantation, organ donation and especially organ shortage through the wide publicity given to the event, along with enjoying a spot of adventure.” Tickets for the launch event cost £50 each and are available from Simone Williams on 0161 276 4976, who can also provide more details about the rally.