Two years ago I was rowing down the Thames with three mates from the London Rowing Club in Putney. On the return from Chiswick my legs gave out and I couldn’t row any further. I felt embarrassed at letting everybody down and we limped back to the club. 
Although I am a practising general practitioner I took a while to discover that my heartbeat was irregular and that I probably had atrial fibrillation. The next day I saw a doctor friend who said I needed to go straight into the Brompton Hospital. An echocardiogram showed that I had two very leaky valves and I was indeed fibrillating. 
I ended up needing an electric shock to regularise my heartbeat and an open heart operation to repair the leaky valves. I was in hospital for 10 days with first class medical and nursing care.
My recovery was slow with two months off work and a final return to half day working which I have maintained ever since. It took me a year or more to get back into a rowing boat and only two months ago did I have my first row with four men in a boat.

To celebrate my recovery and to try and raise funds for research at the Brompton Hospital I intend to row a 33 km course around the Venetian lagoon in a pageant called the Vogalonga on Whitsunday. Once again it will be a four-man boat and the pace should be manageable although it will take most of the day.

Any donations that you choose to give will go towards the research into cardiac sarcoidosis that is being carried out by my two cardiologists Dr Paul Oldershaw and Dr Rakesh Sharma. 

Michael Gormley