By Suzanne Pender
TWO CO Carlow men are among 14 Irish transplant recipients who will travel to Australia next month to represent Ireland at the World Transplant Games.
Bryan Duignan, a kidney transplant recipient from Palatine, Carlow and Tony Gartland, a liver transplant recipient from Hacketstown, will participate as part of Transplant Team Ireland at the World Transplant Games in Perth from 15-21 April.
Both men, along with members of Transplant Team Ireland, attended a team gathering organised by the Irish Kidney Association at the ALSAA Sports Complex, Dublin airport last week to receive their team kit and for an inspirational talk by former Olympian triathlete Gavin Noble.
One of Bryan’s events at the World Transplant Games will be a triathlon, so there’s no doubt Gavin’s wise words will hold him in good stead in Perth. Bryan will also compete in the sprint, 10km cycling time trial and 5km road race in the 40-49 age category.
A Tipperary native, Bryan moved to Carlow for college many years ago and now calls Carlow home. He met his partner here five years ago and she had been doing triathlons for a long time; after watching her do one, Bryan was keen to give it a go himself.
“I did my first in 2021 and haven’t looked back, I was hooked. In 2022, I did as many triathlons as I could register for and loved every one of them. It was one of my club mates who suggested I participate in the transplant games and from the moment I made contact with Colin (team manager) he was so welcoming and encouraging, and I knew I had to give it a try,” said Bryan.
“I am honoured to be able to represent club, country and especially my donor on a world stage with the support of my wonderful family.”
Transplanted in 2006, this will be Bryan’s first time to compete at the World Transplant Games.
“It’s a real opportunity of a lifetime that I get to be part of. Even more special is that I am able to have my family with me, my greatest supporters.”
Tony is celebrating 30 years since his liver transplant and will be forever grateful to his donor and his family. He was the first person to undergo a liver transplant in Ireland. Tony works as a carpenter and is one of the most experienced members of Transplant Team Ireland, having first represented Ireland at the 1995 World Transplant Games in Manchester, England. He has picked up an enormous number of medals across the years and is a highly respected competitor by his peers from across the globe.
Tony is competing in the 50-59 age category in ten-pin bowling singles, 5km road race, 5,000m race walk, 1500m track and 800m track.
“It is 30 odd years since my transplant and I wish to thank publicly those who had any hand, act or part in it,” said Tony.
Ranging in age from 36 right up to 75, the 14 members of Transplant Team Ireland panel – ten men and four women – travelling to Perth have all received organ transplants.
They will be among over 1,200 participants from more than 50 countries, all embracing their gift of life and honouring their donors in this celebration of life through sport.
Competition at the games is by age category, while each athlete is financing their participation through fundraising in the name of the Irish Kidney Association/Transplant Team Ireland and using their own funds.
To follow their progress at the games, you can follow the team blog www.transplantteamireland.ie.