New Team Ireland Doctor – Heather Gunning

Heather Gunning, a Renal Doctor working in Beaumont has joined the Team this year at the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Championships in Cagliari, Italy. Heather, a Down native living in Dublin has been busy ensuring Team Ireland are staying fit and healthy while participating in the Championships.

Heather is really enjoying her first time with the team, she said, “It’s been a great experience so far, every member of the team is very inspirational. I often look after people when they’re sick so its lovely to see the other side of it and see transplant recipients and those on dialysis, who are fit and healthy enough to enjoy life to its fullest and participate in these competitive events.  It’s also lovely to see the relationships between everyone on the team. Team Ireland are like an extended family, the friendship and comradery between them is inspirational. These people have been through difficult times but they come through the other side laughing, smiling and having fun.”

Heather has not only been a great team addition from a medical perspective, she has also been a friendly and approachable addition to the team. Team Captain Harry Ward (Baldoyle) spoke of Heather’s affable nature, “she is extremely friendly and helpful, she really fits in with the team. She’s always vigilant to make sure everyone has their sun cream and medication, and looks out for each and every member of the team. She’s a brilliant addition to Team Ireland”.

Team Manager Colin White also spoke of Heather’s mix of professionalism and friendliness, “she has fitted into the team very well. She is a keen and enthusiastic support, always happy to attend events and cheer on Team Ireland as well as making sure the team stay healthy while in Italy.”

Team Ireland will return to Dublin on Sunday 24th of June at approx. 3.15pm. A homecoming reception will take place at Dublin airport arrivals hall (Terminal 1).


Tipp Triathlete Woman wins Gold and her teammates win further 11 medals on third day of European Transplant & Dialysis Games in Cagliari

A Tipperary woman has cycled her way to victory and won a Gold medal on the third day of events at the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Sardinia in the 20km cycling event. Sheila Gregan, a kidney transplant recipient triathlete from Nenagh also won 2 Silver medals for the 5km race on Monday and in the 50m freestyle swimming event yesterday. 25 nations are competing in the weeklong games which come to a close this weekend.

At another beautiful Cagliari location, Poetta Beach, today other members of the 23 strong Irish Team which ranges in age from 31 to 80, amassed a total of 6 Silver and 5 Bronze medals in the Petanque singles and Petanque doubles events. The Petanque singles medals winners included Chikoyo White from Balbriggan, Dublin and Verina Borrisova from Tallaght (both dialysis patients) as well transplant recipients and games Veterans Charlie Ryan from Cobh, Cork (a liver transplant recipient) and John McAleer from Antrim (kidney transplant).   Medals were also won in Petanque today by Liver transplant recipient Aoife Murray from Clonsilla, Dublin and kidney transplant recipients  Lenny Ryan from TallaghtMarie O’Connor from Lahinch, in Clare and Finian Farrell from Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Dubliners Paul Prendergast (Santry) and Team Captain Harry Ward (from Baldoyle) also competed in Petanque events and although they did not win a medal they were content to be part of the experience.

Two members of the team, Rachel Eagleton (Meath) and Pat O’Sullivan (Cork), also competed in the Tennis mixed doubles event today but were knocked out at the quarter finals stage by an Italian duo. Rachel, who took the Silver medal in Tennis Singles yesterday is now finished her events while Pat has track and field events to take part in at the end of the week.

Two of the team’s three members on DialysisChikoyo White and Verina Borissovaboth Dubliners, played in the same category in Petanque singles and won Silver and Bronze medals respectivelyChikoyo, was delighted with her Silver in her first competition at the games and then went on to scoop a Bronze medal with teammate Aoife Murray in the Petanque Doubles competition.

Newcomer to the team, Verina, is a native of Bulgaria who lives in Tallaght. Verina is waiting for a kidney transplant and has a functioning pancreas having previously undergone a combined kidney and pancreas transplant. Today’s Bronze for Verina can now be added to the Gold medal which she won on the first day of competition in the Darts single event.

Verina’s doubles partner Aoife Murray (a liver transplant from Clonsilla) also competed in the Petanque singes event and won a Silver medal.  Lenny Ryan (kidney transplant from Tallaght),  also won Silver medal in the petanque singles event. This was the silver lining for the Aoife as she had previously won a Bronze medal earlier in the week for tennis.     At today’s Petanque Clare woman Marie O’Connor (kidney transplant from Lahinch) won a Bronze medal, her second medal having also won a bronze on Monday in the Darts triples team event.

Veterans John McAleer from Antrim who is the oldest member of the Irish team at 80 years and Charlie Ryan from Cobh also showed their mettle in the same category 70+ years in Petanque and with John winning Bronze in his first games event and Charlie winning Silver.  Charlie, a retired skipper and liver transplant recipient, then went on to compete with Finian Farrell from Mullingar in the Petanque doubles event where they each won a Silver medal. Charlie had previously won a Gold medal on Monday for Darts and after his performance today in Petanque he added two Silver to his haul. Stephen Byrne (Kerry), Dubliner Harry Ward and Linda Waters (Co. Roscommon) also competed in the Petanque singles event, each putting in great performances.

Sheila Gregan’s 20km cycling event took place on the circuit between Cagliari and Quartu. Sheila won her Gold medal today in the cycling event in her 40-49 year age category said, “I am thrilled with the result. I was third overall in the race and Gold in my age category. t’s Day Three and I’ve finished all my events. It’s been a perfect three days for me. I’m finishing on a high. I do this because I can and that’s all thanks to my donor”.

John McAleer said,  “It’s wonderful to be here on the beach in Sardinia in the sun with great company. I really enjoyed the Petanque singles event and it’s a bonus that I secured a Bronze medal. I would like to thank my family for their support and of course my donor family for making it possible for me to be here and all the people who have cared for me over the past 15 years”.

Aoife Murray “I’m having a ball here at the championships. I’m over the moon with a silver medal in Petanque singles. I will compete in the Petanque doubles event with Chikoyo later today which I am really looking forward to it. Being a team Ireland member is like being part of a lovely family where everyone looks out for everyone else. Special mention to Team Captain Harry Ward and Team Manager Colin White. It’s great to share the games experience with my mam, Mags, who has travelled here with me.”

Westmeath’s Finian Farrell said after winning a Silver with doubles teammate Charlie Ryan in his first European Petanque competition said, “It was my first time to compete in Petanque and it was an honour to partner with Charlie. Charlie was brilliant at encouraging me and the rest of the team really supported me and motivated me during the game. I want to thank my donor and my wife and kids for the support and encouragement to attend the training session. Team Ireland are so supportive, they constantly encouraged and advised me today at the event.”

Tallaght man Lenny Ryan said after winning his Silver medal in Petanque, “I’m delighted with my medal. It was really enjoyable event and I’m having a great time at this year’s games. I’m really looking forward to Bowling tomorrow. The Games are an opportunity to showcase that organ donation works. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my donor.”

Pat O’Sullivan from Mallow was very content today despite been beaten in the tennis mixed pairs quarter finals with teammate Rachel Eagleton. He said, “I’m loving my second Transplant Games and this year am feeling more relaxed than my first time. I have been able to take in more events this year as a spectator. It is such a great thing to be part of a big family, our team. The tennis courts are tough here as they are hard courts and the heat is difficult to take but we did get time to acclimatise before we came out because of the great weather Ireland was enjoying. We got beaten in the quarter finals by two Italians and one of them who actually won out against Rachel in the Tennis singles yesterday when Rachel won a Silver medal. I am looking forward to taking part in the 100m and 200m sprint and relay race as well as the long later in the week”.

Team Ireland will tomorrow compete in the Bowling Singles and Golf Events.

Members of the 23 strong Irish team will continue to compete in other sporting disciplines including Bowling, track and field, archery and golf until the games come to a close on Saturday and returning home to Dublin airport on Sunday next 24th June.

The Irish team of 10 women and 13 men ranging in age from 31 to 80 and includes 20 athletes who underwent kidney, pancreas or liver transplants as well 3 dialysis patients. The team are competing amongst competitors from 25 nations which for the first time in the Championships history will include Russia and Kazakhstan. 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 European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships 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+). Swimming and track and field bring the sporting specialties total to 39.

The Irish Kidney Association is the charity organisation which manages Transplant Team Ireland’s participation at British, European and World Transplant Games events.

For more information on the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships and the Irish athletes visit the team blog or visit the Games website

10 years Transplanted and competing for the 10th  time with Team Ireland – Orla Hogan Ryan

Nenagh native, Orla Hogan Ryan secured a Bronze medal today in the 50m Freestyle Swimming Event at the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Championships in Cagliari. This month is a significant one for Orla, as it marks ten years since she received her life changing Kidney transplant which was donated by a living donor, her brother Cathal. Orla has received four kidney transplants, the first of which was donated to her from her mother in 1991.

Orla has been a central member of Transplant Team Ireland since her first Sports Championship in Slovenia in 2004. Since that Event Orla has competed at 10 Championships with Team Ireland including both European and World Events. Orla has been thoroughly enjoying the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Championships in Cagliari this week, she said, “I am having great fun here as always. The Games is a great way for me to represent my donor and showcase that organ donation works.”

Fellow Team Ireland member and Donegal native, Kieran Murray spoke about Orla’s positive attitude, “Orla is a warm, positive and inspirational person. She always has a smile on her face no matter what the situation. She demonstrates, I believe, what the transplant Games are all about. She motivates and supports the rest of the team and is always there to provide a laugh or joke when people need it. I wish her many more years of good health following her ten year transplant anniversary.”

On the 10th of June 2008 Orla underwent her kidney transplant, and is extremely grateful to her brother Cathal for this, “he is really fabulous, he was only 23 when he made the decision to donate to me. He was very insistent that he wanted to do it. It’s hard to verbalise how grateful I am to him.”

Orla competed in the 5km mini marathon yesterday and was thrilled that despite the hot weather she reduced her time, achieving a personal best.  Following her success in the pool today, she wanted to give a big thank you to Nenagh Masters Swimming Club and Crossfit Nenagh for helping her to prepare for this year’s championships. Orla will also compete in the Bowling and 3km Power Walk Events in the latter half of this week.


For more information contact: Sarah May on

Transplant Team Ireland swim and swing their way to success on Day 2 of European Transplant Games in Sardinia

Transplant Team Ireland continued its winning streak on the second day of events at the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia.  Irish swimmers and tennis players excelled today with 3 Gold medals won by Golden girl Deirdre Faul, plus 4 silver and 3 bronze medals at the Swimming events won by Deirdre and her team mates,  as well as 1 Bronze and 1 Silver at the Tennis events.

In swimming events at S. Sicbaldi swimming pool the Irish team cleaned up as they won three Gold, four Silver and three bronze medals. In tennis singles earlier today Aoife Murray (31) won a Bronze medal and Rachel Eagleton (31) won a Silver in the same event.

Champion Swimmer Deirdre Faul (age 50) kept up her stellar success record scooping three Gold and two Silver medals in her five races. Her first Gold was won in the 50m Freestyle event which was crowned with her personal best time of 36.51 seconds beating a Hungarian who took Silver and a UK athlete who came third.  A couple hours earlier Deirdre, a liver transplant recipient from Dalkey, seized a Silver medal in the 400m Freestyle where once again a Hungarian proved to be stiff competition coming in first and a Hungarian athlete coming third.  In the afternoon, despite the heat and humidity the formidable Deirdre went on to win another Gold in the 50m Breaststroke with another personal best time and she also won a Silver in the 100m Breast Stroke.  She creamed her mighty performance in her final swim race of the day scooping her third Gold in the 100m Freestyle event.

Deirdre’s Teammate Peter Heffernan from Skerries, Dublin also proved he was a force to be reckoned with by winning a Silver medal in his second last race of the day – the 100m freestyle. He also won two bronze medals, a Bronze in the 400m Freestyle swimming event, and he then went on to win his second Bronze of the day in the 50m Freestyle against stiff competition from UK and Hungary. 

At the end of her phenomenal day Deirdre Faul said, “I’m pleased with how I swam today. I achieved two personal bests, one in the 50m freestyle and one in the 50m breast-stroke. The schedule was very busy and it was a challenge with mixed age categories. I’ve really appreciated the support of Swim Ireland and I’m looking forward to working with them again on improving times for the World Games. Of course a big thanks to my donor and donor family for giving me the gift of life”.

Delighted with his successes,Peter Heffernan, a kidney transplant recipient said, “It was a great day here. We all did well. It’s great to see the full Irish team getting medals at the swimming. On days like this I want to say thanks to my donor and spread the message that organ donation works and that life goes on after transplant. In fact you get a news lease of life after transplantation”.

Triathlete Sheila Gregan from Nenagh, Co Tipperary continued in her streak of success since winning a Silver medal yesterday in the 5km race she topped this by winning her second Silver medal today in the 50m freestyle swimming event coming in the same race ahead of fellow teammate Orla Hogan, also from Nenagh, who won a Bronze medal.

Sheila Gregan, a kidney transplant recipient said, “This is my favourite discipline. I’ve been training with Nenagh masters this year. There was very tough competition in the pool as there was mixed age categories so it makes the achievement all the more special. I’m forever grateful for my donor and their family. I’m so proud to be swimming for my country. It’s a great honour.”

Orla Hogan has undergone 4 kidney transplants and this month celebrates the 10th anniversary of the living donor kidney transplant she received from her brother Cathal. Orla said after winning her bronze in swimming, “It’s just great being here and that all of us are well enough to compete and to show our donors that organ donation works”.

Sheila will compete in her final event, the 20km cycling race, on Wednesday while Orla has two more disciplines to compete in later in the week – 10 pin bowling and the 3km Power walk.

At another venue across the city in Cagliari at the Su Planu Tennis Club, Rachel Eagleton, the youngest member of Transplant Team Ireland (31), from Bettystown, Co Meath played her way to the tennis singles finals, in which she competed against the defending world champion from Italy and secured a Silver medal. In the qualifiers for the same Tennis singles event,  liver transplant recipient, Aoife Murray (also 31) from Clonsilla in Dublin played in the semi-final and came away with a Bronze medal in the 18-39 age category.  Finian Farrell, a kidney transplant recipient from Mullingar, Co Westmeath was knocked out in his first tennis singles competition by the current World champion from Poland.

Following the final Rachel Eagleton said, “Today was really enjoyable. I’m happy with how I played and I’m looking forward to playing in the mixed doubles tomorrow with Pat. It’s been a great week so far. A big thank you to my donor and their family. The decision they made to donate is why I’m here today.”

Aoife Murray said after receiving a bronze in Tennis said, “It was a great experience taking part in the Tennis competition today. Some fantastic games of tennis were played by all the athletes in some extremely hot conditions.  I just want to thank the team for all their support and my mother who is here with me and also family and friends at home. But most of all I want to thank my donor and the donor family for giving me a new life which means I can compete at these wonderful games with athletes from 25 different countries. It’s been a great experience so far with much more to come throughout the week.”

The team’s success today follows on from the first day of events at the Games (Monday 18th June) when they won 8 medals including 2 Gold, 1 Silver and 5 Bronze in the 5km and Darts.

Tomorrow Team Ireland will compete in the Petanque, 20km Road Race and Tennis Mixed Doubles Events.

A homecoming reception for Transplant Team Ireland will take place at Dublin airport’s arrivals hall (Terminal 1) when the team arrives home on a Eurowings flight from Dusseldorf on Sunday 24th June around 3.15pm. 

The Irish Kidney Association is the charity organisation which manages Transplant Team Ireland’s participation at British, European and World Transplant Games events.

For more information on the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships and the Irish athletes visit the team blog or visit the Games website

Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association tel. 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website or download the ‘Digital Organ Donor card’. Your wishes to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence which is represented by Code 115.


Transplant Team Ireland got off to a great start in the first day of week-long competition at the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships today (Monday) in Sardinia winning 2 Gold, 1 Silver and 5 Bronze. The Irish team spent their first full day yesterday (Sunday) acclimatising to the hot weather and familiarising themselves with their beautiful surroundings on the picturesque coastal host city of Cagliari.

Today members of the Irish team showed their mettle by securing 2 Gold medals in the Darts (singles) events and its Darts Triples team came third winning three Bronze at the Hotel Setar. At another venue, the City Track in Cagliari, other Irish team members were rewarded for their 5km races with a Silver medal as well as 2 Bronze medals.

The Irish fared exceptionally well in the Darts singles competition where two Gold medals were seized by veteran to the team Charlie Ryan from Cobh and newcomer to the Irish team Verina Borissova, a Bulgarian native who lives in Tallaght, Dublin.  Liver transplant recipient Charlie Ryan who is in his seventies, defended and won his six in a row Champion Darts title having won Gold at every biennial European games since 2008. Dubliners Paul Prendergast from Santry and Harry Ward (the Team captain from Baldoyle) as well as Clare woman Marie O’Connor competed well together in the Darts Triples event before being beaten by a Hungarian team in the semi-finals and they each received a bronze medal for coming in third place.

Despite the early morning heat up in the late 20s, Transplant Team Ireland put in great performances in their 5KM races, with the first medal for the team, a Silver, won by Nenagh woman Sheila Gregan. Her teammate Kilkenny native Emma O’Sullivan (living in Glin, Limerick) was awarded a Bronze medal and her personal best time in the same race while Kieran Murray from Ramelton, Donegal was also rewarded for his strong performance with a Bronze medal in his 5km race in the 30-39 year age category.

Triathlete Sheila Gregan, a kidney transplant recipient, delighted with her win in the 40-49 year age category said, ”I’m absolutely thrilled to have won a Silver medal.  The fine weather at home has helped with the acclimatisation for here but it was very hot. Once I started the race I focused so I didn’t think of the heat, just the finish line. I want to thank the Nenagh Tri Club and my colleague Eileen Carroll as she’s been a great motivator and support in the lead up. Of course I want to echo the sentiments of the whole team in saying that we’re here because of our donor and donor family. I wouldn’t be here otherwise and I’m extremely grateful. My sisters, Liz and Mary, are here supporting me and it was great to have them at the sideline and to witness me winning Silver. I am really looking forward to taking part in Swimming tomorrow and in the 20km Cycling event on Wednesday.”

Stephen Byrne from Tralee was placed fourth in the 50-59 years age category narrowly missing out on a Bronze by just three seconds and achieving his personal best. The kidney transplant recipient said, “I have to thank my donor, I wouldn’t be here without them. A big thanks to my club in Tralee, Born to Run and Tralee Park Run”.

Kieran Murray said “I’m delighted to win a medal after all my hard work and training. I want to thank everyone including my sponsors, family, my club Milford AC especially James Gibbons and Seamus Ferry and of course my donor without whom it wouldn’t be possible.”

Emma O’Sullivan, two-time kidney transplant recipient and mother of one, said “I’m delighted with the result I achieved a personal best time. I would like to thank my donors and their families as if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today, and I’d like to thank the team at CH Health & Fitness in Glin.”

Charlie Ryan, in his seventies, was defending his six in a row European title and faced strong competitors.  In the Darts match final against a Slovenian he secured victory. He said “I am delighted with six in a row, unbeaten. The game is getting tougher and tougher as the standard gets higher each year, but my practice pays off. I practice nearly every day. I’m thrilled with the result.”

Verina Borissova, who underwent a combined kidney and pancreas transplant, has returned to dialysis treatment said, “I am delighted with the result today and my practice has paid off. I competed against a Slovenian in the final and she was a great player and it was a very challenging game. I really want to thank my previous donor and of course my future kidney donor as I am awaiting a transplant. The Irish team has helped me and supported me today. They are brilliant people. I am really looking forward to competing in my next event, Petanque, on Wednesday.”

Team Captain Harry Ward spoke of his delight in winning a Bronze in the darts triples event and said, “I’m shocked and surprised but absolutely delighted. Well done to my team members Paul and Marie and to all the supporters. It was a great event.”

 Also representing their country today was Dubliner Lenny Ryan from Tallaght and Michael Keohane from Roscarbery in Cork who took part in the Darts Triples competition with triples teammate and Gold medal winner Charlie Ryan.

Later in the day the 23-strong Irish team attended the Games Opening Ceremony held in Santoru, Athletic Stadium along with the 25 nations participating in this years Championships. Team  Ireland members Aoife Murray from Dublin, and Mullingar native Finian Farrell proudly flew the Irish flag on behalf of the team.

The Irish team of 10 women and 13 men ranging in age from 31 to 80 and includes 20 athletes who underwent kidney, pancreas or liver transplants as well 3 athletes that are receiving Dialysis treatment. 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.

Team Ireland will be tomorrow competing in the Tennis and Swimming Events and are all looking forward to the week ahead.

 The Irish Kidney Association is the charity organisation which manages Transplant Team Ireland’s participation at British, European and World Transplant Games events.

For more information on the 10th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships and the Irish athletes visit the team blog or visit the Games website