As the 9th European Transplant & Dialysis Championships draw to a close in Vantaa, Transplant Team Ireland’s spirit is high as they head homeward today with a staggering final medal tally of 21 Gold, 19 Silver and 29 Bronze. This place’s 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.
Garda and Kerry Native Alan Gleeson (from Listowel) showed fantastic times at the Track and Field events. This was Alan’s second time away with the Team, this time competing in the dialysis category as prior to his transplanted kidney failing he competed as a transplant recipient at the Games in Slovenia in 2004. Alan was delighted to join the team again and to take home two Gold and one Silver medal.
His teammate Stephen Byrne, from Tralee really enjoyed his time in Finland with his wife Francisse and two children Jennifer (18) and Ethan (14) who travelled with him.
Newcomer Stephen Byrne from Tralee spoke of the “craic and camaraderie” he witnessed throughout the week. This was most definitely present at all events as the Irish team were regularly heard singing ‘The fields of Athenry’ and ‘Molly Malone’ at the top of their voices.Transplant Team Ireland this year comprises 22 men and 6 women including 22 transplant recipients (4 liver, 17 kidney and 1 combined kidney/pancreas) and six athletes that are receiving dialysis treatment. The biennialWorld Transplant Games will be held in Malaga next year and many of Transplant Team Ireland are planning on participating there.The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for the co-ordination and organisation of Transplant Team Ireland’s participation in the European Transplant & Dialysis Championships.