A Newmarket teenager who never thought he would live to take his A-levels is now preparing for a life away at university.
Gareth Garner, 19, will take up a place at the University of Chester next month to read bio medical sciences after meeting his offer by gaining Bs in biology and his extended project qualification, along with a C in psychology.
While making the grade to get into university is a success story in its own right, the Newmarket Academy pupil’s achievement is a true triumph over adversity with the good news coming three years after being struck down with Goodpasture Syndrome, an auto-immune disease which attacks the lungs.
“This is by far the biggest achievement in my life as it means so much to me as really I should not be alive,” said Gareth.
“The whole Goodpasture Syndrome came on all of a sudden when I was 16 and studying for my GCSE exams. I just developed a cough and I thought it was a lung infection,
“Then night I coughed up loads of blood and I was taken to hospital. I was treated for pneumonia but after having a lung biopsy it transpired I had Goodpasture Syndrome.
“I spent three months in hospital with a month of it being in intensive care. While in intensive care I was placed on a life support machine for two weeks and they didn’t think I was going to make it.
“I was so happy when I was able to come back and do my A-levels, and now I can’t wait to go to university.”
Although it has taken the Studlands Park resident a lot of will power and strength to put him in the position he finds himself today, he has praised the staff at the Exning Road academy for helping him reach his end goal.
“As I pick up infections quite easy I have had time a lot of time off but the teachers made I sure didn’t miss out on any work as they emailed me over to me and always said come back in when you are ready. They really supported me all the way through,” said Gareth.
Commending Gareth on his achievement was Hazel Simmons, deputy head-teacher at the academy.
“I remember teaching him in the GCSE year and he was one of the brightest and best so it was devastating,” said Mrs Simmons.
“He was going to sail through and then the next moment he was in hospital.
“He has been really tenacious and had to work much harder than anyone else but he just hasn’t given up in spite of it all.”