Strange Boat - Organ Donation Awareness


Success at World Transplant Games

Four inspirational athletes returned home last week (August 31st) from Argentina after an outstanding performance at the World Transplant Games, bringing with them an impressive haul of 13 medals.

Following an outstanding performance at the 20th World Transplant Games in Argentina the four athletes returned home to a rapturous welcome, bringing with them 7 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.  Despite the team’s small size, Ireland was placed 15th on the medals table out of 44 countries at the Games which involved just under 800 (799) organ transplant participants.

Colin White(right of picture) Team Manager and newly elected treasurer of the World Transplant Games Federation described  the Games experience, “The spirit of our team this week has embodied everything that is good in transplant sport, namely friendship, commitment, support and a deep appreciation for the gift of life that is organ donation.  I have found this week both humbling and inspiring.  When you see the dreams that are realised at the Games you begin to realise the awesome power that transplant sport has to change lives. When you see the appreciation for life one can't but be inspired to make a commitment to make a difference and carry an Organ Donor Card".

The only female on the small squad was Deirdre Faul, a liver transplant recipient from Dalkey, Dublin. A formidable racquet ball player, she did not relinquish her champion world title in the Squash event securing a Gold medal once again for the fifth year in succession at the biennial games. Also an accomplished swimmer  she secured a Gold medal in the 400m freestyle event as well as a Silver medal in the 100 me breaststroke in her 40 -49 year old age category.  

Securing 4 medals at the Games was Tony Gartland (on right below), the first person to undergo a liver transplant in Ireland in January 1993 at St Vincent’s University Hospital. Tony from Hacketown, Carlow (on the Wicklow border) competed in the 50-59 year age category and secured 1 Gold and 3 Silver medals. Tony retained his champion title for the 5k Race Walk event from the previous World Games in Durban, South Africa and once again secured a Gold medal. His three Silver medals were won in the 5km Road Race and 1500m and 800m track races. 

Father of three  Kieran Murray (left above) from Ramelton, Donegal put in an outstanding performance at his first World Transplant Games having enjoyed huge success last year at his first time to put on the Irish team kit when he represented Ireland at the European Transplant & Dialysis Games in Krakow where he won 4 medals. Kieran underwent a kidney transplant in 2012 and he proved a worthy competitor in the 30-39 year old age category at this year’s World Games securing two Gold medals in the 5km Road race and 1500m track event as well as a Bronze medal in the 800m track race. 

Peter Heffernan (second from right top photo) from Skerries in Dublin received a kidney transplant in 2011, and is a keen swimmer. He won two Gold medals 50m Backstroke, 1000 m backstroke and a Bronze medal for the 1000m freestyle event  in his 50-59 year old age category.  Summing up his experience at the Games Peter said “the Games give me an overwhelming sense of the gift I have received from my donor and their family. The hundreds of athletes who have participated in these games all testify to this sense of gratitude". 

The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for managing Transplant Team Ireland's participation at the Games. A larger Irish Team can now look forward to competing in the next World Transplant Games which will be held in 2017 in Malaga, Spain. Next year the team will take part in the biennial European Transplant & Dialysis Games which will be held in Vantaa, Helsinki, Finland.

For more information on the 20th World Transplant Games and Transplant Team Ireland, visit the team blog (Twitter Facebook and follow trends on #wtg2015)

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