A Mullingar man is to represent Ireland in the European Transplant Games in Krakow, Poland, which take place between August 16 and August 23.
John Connell (55 ), a native of Harbour Street, but living in Cape Town, South Africa since 2005, will represent Ireland at the eighth Games in two cycling events - a 5km time trial, and a 20km road race.
This is his second time to represent his country, having done so at the World Games in Durban, South Africa last year.
John, a living donor kidney transplant recipient, is one of the 34-strong Irish team ranging in age from 16 to 76 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 Games will involve close to 500 participants from 30 countries throughout Europe.
Every athlete at the Games will either have already received a kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas, or bone marrow transplant, or are on dialysis.
Athletes will compete in badminton, tennis, cycling, darts, golf, petanque, swimming, table tennis, ten pin bowling, tennis, volleyball, mini-marathon, track and field and, for the first time this year a summer biathlon event.
At the previous European Games which were held in Zagreb, Croatia in 2012, and with a smaller team of 26, Ireland was placed third on the medal table after France and Slovenia out of 28 participating countries after securing an impressive medals haul of 14 gold, 15 silver and 21 bronze.
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.