A Mullingar man is to represent Ireland in the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa, which take place next week betweeen July 28 and August 4.
John Connell (55 ), a native of Harbour Street, but living in Cape Town since 2005, will represent Ireland at the 19th Games in two cycling events - a 5km time trial, and a 20km road race.
John, a living donor kidney transplant recipient, is one of the 24-strong Irish team ranging in age from 12 to 68 who will take part in various sporting disciplines.
“I’ve always been very athletic, and in fact I moved from Ireland to South Africa to enjoy the vibrant cycling scene on the Cape,” said John. “When I began to slow down in 2009 I blamed it on middle age, but a check-up in summer 2010 immediately led to an end-stage, renal failure diagnosis, with dialysis in view within months,” he explained.
“Remember, I’m now living in Cape Town South Africa, a 12-hour flight from home and family, but I sent one quick email home and my amazing family swept into action. My four sisters volunteered to be tested in Dublin and all were found to be compatible donors, with Frances volunteering to be my donor heroine,” he added.
All John’s tests were carried out in Cape Town, and in May 2011 Frances flew over for the operation, just seven months after the initial diagnosis.
The operation was appropriately performed in the Christian Barnard Hospital in Cape Town, named in honour of the world’s first ever transplant surgeon.
The Irish team of 24 athletes have all received organ transplants including kidney, pancreas, liver, and heart. Seven of the kidney recipients received their transplant from living donors. Two of the younger members of the team have just completed their Junior and Leaving Cert exams.
For organ donor cards Freetext DONOR to 50050 or contact the Irish Kidney Association on Locall 1890 543639 or log on to www.ika.ie .
You can now store your donor card details on your smart phone by downloading the free Organ Donor Ecard app.