Strange Boat - Organ Donation Awareness


"In Memory of My Donor"

Celebrating15 years since receiving his life saving heart transplant, Ernesto Antonio took part in this year’s Dublin City Marathon proudly displaying the very personal sentiment “in memory of my donor”.

Since his transplant at the Mater Hospital Dublin in 1999 Ernesto has undertaken a multitude of huge physical challenges on land and in water across Europe and he has also climbed Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. In 2009 when he participated in the Dublin City Marathon he broke a world time record for a heart transplant recipient. Cheering on his success as he crossed the line at this year's marathon, was his wife Kate and daughter Isabella as well as his sister and brother and nieces from Galway.

Ernesto from Bushy Park, in Galway and now living in Essex explained, "from having barely 15 hours to live I have had 15 amazing years thanks to my donor and their family and I hope it will encourage others to carry a donor card so that more people can also receive the gift of life”.

“Since my transplant fifteen years ago I have done numerous half marathons and triathlons, I did the Ironman 70.3 in my native Galway, I’ve swam the English Channel in a relay, swam across Galway Bay, cycled Lands End to John O’Groats, cycled London to Paris, climbed Kilimanjaro, raced across Scotland in two days and represented Ireland at the European Heart and Lung Transplant Games, and at the Transplant Games in Lithuania this year I won a Silver and 5 Gold medals. My donor's heart has made all of this possible. My aim in undertaking all these challenges is always to create awareness and promote organ donation awareness".

Ernesto now works as a theatre charge nurse in Essex, England which sometimes involves emergency surgery and brings him in contact with transplant coordinators for organ retrieval.  Ernesto recalls having been at death’s door in 1999 and says “I remember desperately hoping for a heart transplant in time for my daughter Isabella’s sixth birthday.  It came a week later. She is now 21 and attending university. It is thanks to my donor that I have seen her grown up". This will not be  Ernesto’s first time to take part in the Dublin Marathon as his first outing was in 2006 (see his account in a link below) and he  broke a world time record for a heart transplant recipient in Dublin in 2009 with a time of 3.45. "I’m a little older now and care less about my finishing time and simply enjoy being able to take part", said Ernesto.

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