Nenagh women join Transplant Team Ireland at European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Games in Italy

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Nenagh women join Transplant Team Ireland at European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Games in Italy

Football Legend Peter Canavan with Transplant Team Ireland members from Nenagh Orla Hogan and Sheila Gregan

Two Tipperary women are set to take part in the European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Games in Italy next month. 

Kidney transplant patients Orla Hogan and Sheila Gregan, both from Nenagh, will join their fellow Irish athletes on the Transplant Ireland team panel. 

The current panel of Transplant Team Ireland comprises 24 athletes, 10 women and 14 men, ranging in age from 31 to 80, and includes five liver transplant recipients, 16 kidney transplant recipients and three dialysis patients including two women who underwent combined kidney/pancreas transplants but, while they await another kidney transplant, their pancreas transplants are still functioning.  

Team Manager Colin White said, “The Irish team has developed a wonderful reputation at the European Championships over the years. There is a great history of top results – regularly finishing in the top 5 countries on the medals table. Also, the team’s sense of fair play and camaraderie are always appreciated. Team members take on the personal challenges offered by the Championships, but they also take on the collective responsibility to showcase the importance and success of organ donation and transplantation. I always enjoy the impact that the team’s endeavours have on others living with organ failure. Their positive can-do attitude inspires those newly diagnosed to realise that there is the potential for a very full and rewarding future.”

The Irish Team has enjoyed great success at other European Championships over the past number of years. At the previous European Championships which were held in Vantaa, Finland, in 2016, the Irish team's final medal tally was a staggering 21 Gold, 19 Silver and 29 Bronze.  This placed Ireland’s 28 strong team in fifth position on the medals table with host country Finland, and a much larger team of 96 athletes, taking top position out of 24 competing countries.

The European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships are a celebration of life and showcase the value of sport and regular physical activity for people on dialysis and transplant recipients. The Games are open to all kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas, bone marrow transplant recipients as well as dialysis patients. The multi-sport event includes athletics, badminton, cycling, darts, golf, mini marathon, petanque, swimming, table tennis, tennis, ten pin bowling, virtual triathlon and the hosts have also added archery and surf-casting. Athletes are divided into six age groups (18-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+).

Pic: Transplant Team Ireland with football legend Peter Canavan ahead of European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championships

The Irish Kidney Association is the charity organisation which manages Transplant Team Ireland’s participation at British, European and World Transplant Games events.   The Irish Kidney Association is looking forward to bringing the biennial European Games back to Ireland in 2020 after it successfully hosted the 6th European Transplant & Dialysis Games in Dublin in 2010 which attracted over 500 participants and supporters from 23 countries.

At 80 years of age, retired university lecturer and kidney transplant recipient John McAleer from Antrim, is likely to be the oldest participant overall at the forthcoming European Games as he was the oldest competitor at the previous two biennial games. Rachel Eagleton, a kidney transplant recipient from Bettystown, Co Meath and Aoife Murray from Clonsilla in Dublin, who underwent a liver transplant, are the two youngest members of the current team and are 31 years old. Tony Gartland from Hacketsown, Carlow was the first person to undergo a liver transplant in Ireland at St. Vincent’s Hospital in 1999, 25 years ago.

Several other members of the team are enjoying the successful longevity of their life saving transplants including James Nolan from Kilcullen whose sister Catherine donated a kidney to him over 30 years ago. The team is Captained by Dubliner and kidney transplant recipient Harry Ward and the panel also includes Team Doctor Heather Gunning and Team Manager Colin White who is currently also the Honorary Secretary of the European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Federation. Newcomer to the team is Verina Borrisova, a native of Bulgaria, and now living in Tallaght. Verina is currently undergoing dialysis treatment while awaiting her third kidney transplant and, like her teammate Linda Waters, has received a combined kidney/pancreas transplant.

The full Irish panel is as follows:-

Antrim: John McAleer, Newtownabbey (kidney) (oldest member of the team)

Carlow: Tony Gartland, Hacketstown (liver)

Cork: Mike Keohane, Roscarbery, Clonakilty (liver); Patrick O’Sullivan, Mallow (kidney) Charlie Ryan, Cobh (liver);

Clare: Marie O’Connor, Lahinch (kidney)

Donegal:  Kieran Murray, Ramelton (kidney)

Kerry:  Stephen Byrne, Tralee (kidney);

Kildare: James Nolan, Kilcullen (kidney)

Kilkenny / Limerick: Emma O’Sullivan, Glin, Co. Limerick and a native of Kilkenny (kidney)

Meath: Rachel Eagleton, Bettystown (kidney) (youngest member of team)

Roscommon: Linda Waters, Roscommon town (dialysis, pancreas transplant)

Tipperary: Orla Hogan, Nenagh (kidney); and Sheila Gregan, Nenagh (kidney)

Westmeath: Finian Farrell, Mullingar (kidney)

Dublin: Peter Heffernan, Skerries (kidney); Ron Grainger, Castleknock, D.15 (kidney); Paul Prendergast, Santry, D.9 (kidney); Aoife Murray, Clonsilla, D.15 (liver); Harry Ward, TEAM CAPTAIN, Baldoyle, D.13 (kidney); Chikoyo White, Balbriggan (dialysis);

Leonard Ryan, Tallaght, D. 24 (kidney); Verina Borrisova, (newcomer) native of Bulgaria now living in Tallaght, D. 24 (dialysis with pancreas transplant); and Deirdre Faul, Dalkey (liver).

Team Manager: Colin White from Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

Team Doctor: Heather Gunning, Dublin 8