Fourteen Irish transplant recipients will travel to Perth, Australia next month to represent Ireland at the World Transplant Games (15-21April). This follows a four-year hiatus for the biennial World Transplant Games, as the previous event planned for 2021 had to be cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Irish squad gathered at the ALSAA Sports Complex, Dublin airport on Sunday, 12th March and were joined by family, friends and other members of the Transplant Team Ireland programme, to receive their official team kit. The guest speaker at the event organised by the Irish Kidney Association was former Olympian triathlete Gavin Noble, the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s Chef de Mission for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and 2023 European Games.
Ranging in age from 36 right up to 75, the current Transplant Team Ireland panel of 10 inspirational men and 4 women travelling to Perth have all received organ transplants including 2 liver, 2 bone marrow, and 10 kidney. They will be among over 1,200 participants from over 50 countries, all embracing their gift of life and honoring their donors in this celebration of life through sport.
In his talk to Transplant Team Ireland, Gavin Noble shared some of the wisdom he gained from the lead up to, and participation in, the 2012 Olympic Games in London and how he is now invested into helping other athletes be the best that they can be. He said, “Each and every one of you on the Transplant Team are an inspiration as you are living your best life, honouring your donors and representing your country in sport. Sport brings people together as does organ donation”.
The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for managing and supporting Transplant Team Ireland’s involvement at the Games and its National Advocacy and Projects Manager Colin White is the Team Manager. Speaking at the team gathering, he said, “It’s great to see the return of the World Transplant Games bringing the transplant community back together after the global pandemic. The World Transplant Games is about more than just sport, it is about camaraderie and the shared message that organ donation works. It’s about honouring organ donors and their families and being a role model for others who are newly diagnosed with organ failure. With a mix of seasoned campaigners and new team members, this year’s squad will carry on the team’s long legacy of supporting each other and every performance by every competitor. Our two competitors over the age of 70 are a fantastic example to us all in that sport can, and should, be a life-long habit. Each competitor is an ambassador in their own right and, collectively, the team sends out a wonderfully uplifting message about how life can be post-transplant”.
Competition at the Games is by age category and Transplant Team Ireland will have representatives in the following eleven sports: Cycling; Darts; Golf; Lawn Bowls; Petanque; Road Race; Swimming; Table Tennis; Ten Pin Bowling; Tennis; and Triathlon.
Each of the athletes is funding their participation in the Games (Games registration, flights, accommodation, and meals) through fundraising in the name of the Irish Kidney Association/Transplant Team Ireland, and using their own funds. The team is proud to wear the Team Kit which, this year, has been sponsored by the Health Services Staffs Credit Union (HSSCU). Its Chief Executive Sean Hosford, said, “HSSCU are very proud to be involved with the Transplant Team Ireland and provide support. It’s an organisation that is doing brilliant work. Supporting our members and the wider community is an integral part of how HSSCU operates. On a personal level and as a family that have benefited from organ donation, I’m very aware of the life changing benefits afforded transplant recipients by such a wonderful gesture. Everyone involved wishes each of the athletes competing the very best at the games. It’s an honour to be involved in a small way with an Irish team competing internationally. We look forward to following the team closely once the games get started”.
To find out more about the World Transplant Games visit website www.worldtransplantgames.org
THE FULL IRISH PANEL IS AS FOLLOWS INCLUDING THEIR TRANSPLANT ORGAN:
CARLOW: Bryan Duignan, Palatine (kidney)
Tony Gartland, Hacketstown near WICKLOW (Liver)
CORK: Michael Kiely, Ballylanders, Mitchelstown, on LIMERICK border (living kidney donor)
Pat O’Sullivan, Mallow (kidney)
Hugh Nolan, Donaraile (kidney)
Mairead O’Mahony, Berrings (bone marrow)
GALWAY: Teresa Smyth, Dunmore, Tuam (kidney)
KILDARE: Bernadette Cox, Newbridge (kidney)
LIMERICK: John Loftus, Clarina (kidney)
MEATH: Tony Gavigan, Navan and native of LONGFORD father of deceased donor (kidney)
TIPPERARY: Sheila Gregan, Nenagh, (kidney)
DUBLIN: Ron Grainger, Castleknock, D 15 (kidney)
Finbar O’Regan, Pearse Street, Dublin 2 (Liver)
Nick Heather, Sutton, Dublin, now living in Melbourne, Australia (bone marrow)
TEAM MANAGER, Colin White from Balbriggan, Dublin