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Surgeons crossing Sahara

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By Jane Lavender | The Bolton News 

TRANSPLANT surgeon Titus Augustine is swapping his scrubs for a steering wheel as he prepares to drive 4,000 miles for charity.

The consultant at Manchester Royal Infirmary will drive from Portsmouth to the Gambia in a 13-year-old 4 x 4, with just a colleague for support.

He said: "This will be a real challenge and is something I'm excited about but it's also for a very good cause. I'm really looking forward to it and also slightly apprehensive.

"I have some concerns about driving across the Western Sahara. Not only is it very remote but security there isn't 100 per cent."

Mr Augustine, from Lostock, will set off on January 11 and drive across France, Spain, Morocco, part of the Western Sahara, across Senegal and into the Gambia. He hopes to arrive on February 1.

There will be 28 cars taking part in the rally, which is completely unsupported, and Mr Augustine and his colleague, Hany Riad, a fellow consultant surgeon are raising cash for Pageant, a charity which supports education and related projects in the Gambia, as well as the MRI Charitable Fund, an organisation raising funds for research into transplants.

The duo, who have dubbed themselves the Transplant Titans' will stay in budget hotels for some of their journey but have taken a tent for the long stretch across the Sahara.

Mr Augustine, who will leave behind his wife, Sheila, and 21-year-old daughter, Aditis, also hopes his mammoth drive will raise awareness of the importance of signing up to the Organ Donor Register.

He said: "As a surgeon I see both sides of people waiting for transplants. Those who get them and those who don't. It's vital people sign up to become organ donors."

The Transplant Titans have already raised £10,000 with two events, one at the Living Room in Deansgate, Manchester, in November, and the other at the Holland Hall Country House Hotel in Upholland, near Wigan, but are appealing for people to donate to their cause.

People can sponsor them, and monitor their progress, by logging on to The car the team will be using has been donated to them by Synergy, a company which develops educational programmes for healthcare professionals, patients and their carers.

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