Liver transplant recipient Tony Gartland from Hacketstown will represent Ireland alongside thirteen other bone marrow, liver and kidney transplant recipients at the World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia this month.
Enjoying the successful longevity of a transplant he underwent 30 years ago, Tony was the first man to undergo a liver transplant in Ireland, at St. Vincent’s University Hospital in 1993.
Before setting off for Perth, the Hacketstown man and inspirational members of Transplant Team Ireland gathered at the ALSAA Sports Complex in Dublin to receive their team kit and a talk by former Olympian triathlete Gavin Noble – the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s Chef de Mission for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and 2023 European Games.
In his inspiring speech to Transplant Team Ireland, Gavin shared the wisdom he gained from the his participation in the 2012 Olympic Games in London and explained how he is invested in helping other athletes be the best that they can be.
“Each and every one of you on the Transplant Team are an inspiration as you are living your best life, honouring your donors and representing your country in sport,” Gavin said. “Sport brings people together as does organ donation.”
Taking place between April 15 and April 21, this year’s biennial World Transplant Games marks the return of the event after a four-year hiatus, with previous events planned for 2021 cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Ranging in age from 36 up to 75, the Transplant Team Ireland panel of 10 inspirational men and four women traveling to Perth have all received organ transplants including two liver, two bone marrow, and 10 kidney.
Team Ireland will compete against 1,200 participants from over 50 countries, who are all embracing their gift of life and honouring their donors in this celebration of life through sport.
The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for managing and supporting Transplant Team Ireland’s involvement at the Games and its National Advocacy and Projects Manager Colin White is the Team Manager.
Speaking at the team gathering, Colin said: “It’s great to see the return of the World Transplant Games bringing the transplant community back together after the global pandemic. The World Transplant Games is about more than just sport, it is about camaraderie and the shared message that organ donation works.
“It’s about honouring organ donors and their families and being a role model for others who are newly diagnosed with organ failure. With a mix of seasoned campaigners and new team members, this year’s squad will carry on the team’s long legacy of supporting each other and every performance by every competitor.
“Our two competitors over the age of 70 are a fantastic example to us all in that sport can, and should, be a life-long habit. Each competitor is an ambassador in their own right and, collectively, the team sends out a wonderfully uplifting message about how life can be post-transplant”.
Competition at the games is by age category and Transplant Team Ireland will have representatives in Cycling; Darts; Golf; Lawn Bowls; Petanque; Road Race; Swimming; Table Tennis; Ten Pin Bowling; Tennis; and Triathlon.
Speaking at the gathering in Dublin, a spokesperson for Team Ireland said: “Each of the athletes is funding their participation in the Games (Games registration, flights, accommodation, and meals) through fundraising in the name of the Irish Kidney Association/Transplant Team Ireland, and using their own funds.
“The team is proud to wear the Team Kit which, this year, has been sponsored by the Health Services Staffs Credit Union (HSSCU).
HSSCU’s Chief Executive Sean Hosford, added: “HSSCU are very proud to be involved with the Transplant Team Ireland and provide support. It’s an organisation that is doing brilliant work. Supporting our members and the wider community is an integral part of how HSSCU operates.
“On a personal level and as a family that have benefited from organ donation, I’m very aware of the life changing benefits afforded transplant recipients by such a wonderful gesture.
“Everyone involved wishes each of the athletes competing the very best at the games. It’s an honour to be involved in a small way with an Irish team competing internationally. We look forward to following the team closely once the games get started”.
To find out more about the World Transplant Games visit website www.worldtransplantgames.org. To find out more about members of Transplant Team Ireland and to follow their progress at the Games, you can follow the team blog at www.transplantteamireland.ie
By Eoin Mac Raghnaill https://www.independent.ie/regionals/wicklow/news/inspirational-tony-gartland-of-wicklow-to-compete-at-world-transplant-games-in-australia-42423079.html