Irish Transplant Team Gears Up For World Transplant Games


Irish Transplant Team Gears Up For World Transplant Games


In just over a month 38 members of Transplant Team Ireland, including two Badminton competitors, will depart for the World Transplant Games 2019 which will take place in Newcastle Gateshead, UK next month (17-24 August). Ranging in age from 16 to 81, the team of 29 men and 9 women, have all undergone organ transplants including 1 heart, 1 lung, 4 liver, 1 bone marrow and 31 kidney. The largest ever Irish Transplant Team travelling abroad, they will be among 2000 participants from over 60 countries.

Athletes will compete in their respective age categories in the following events:  badminton, cycling, darts, golf, petanque, squash, swimming, table tennis, ten pin bowling, tennis, mini-marathon, and track and field. Two kidney transplant recipients on the Irish Team - Noel Marsden from Athlone Co Westmeath and Tommy Marrett from Ardee, Co Louth - are hoping for success as they compete together in the Badminton doubles event.  


This will be Noel's first time to compete in the World Transplant Games. He underwent a deceased donor kidney transplant in 2017 and before this he competed as a dialysis patient at European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Finland in 2016 at which he won a bronze medal for a swimming event. Noel, a father  of one daughter, who works in IT at the Department of Agriculture, will compete in Swimming in the 30-39 age category as well as in Petanque doubles with teammate Jerome Lyness from Meath.  Speaking in advance of next month's World Transplant Games  Noel said, "I am excited to be attending my first game since my transplant and am hoping to do my kidney donor proud. I'm motivated to prove that organ donation works and to encourage more people to join Transplant Team Ireland in Dublin next year for the European Transplant Games."


Tommy Marrett is a newcomer to the team who underwent a living donor kidney transplant from his donor sister in 2016.  No stranger to sport and fitness, the 4th Den Black Belt in Karate,  will compete in the 50-59 year age category in Badminton singles as well as pairing with Noel Marsden in the Doubles event. Tommy will also compete in Ten Pin Bowling and Petanque singles event. Tommy said , “I intend to compete to the best of my ability and regardless how I do I will support my team members in all there events. I expect to see a real team spirit develop and friendships grow which will continue throughout the year and ongoing. Regardless of what level you play at, just enjoy the experience. The team members will support you 100% and become more of a family than a team.”

The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for Ireland’s involvement in the Games and the National Projects Manager Colin White (from Balbriggan, Dublin) is the team manager. Speaking about the Games, he said, “I am excited about the diverse nature of this year's squad who will represent Ireland at the World Transplant Games 2019. We cover a wide range of sports and have a variety of levels of experience too. Our 5 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.

Newly elected National Honorary Chairman of the Irish Kidney Association Colin MacKenzie (from Portmarnock, Dublin) said, “the Irish Kidney Association is delighted to show itssupport for the Federation of Irish Sport's 20x20 initiative ( which is aimed at promoting the profile and involvement of women in sport. We are committed to increasing the profile of women involved in our sports programme through our website and social media channels. With our hosting of next year's European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Dublin next summer whilst our primary goal is to promote the importance and success of organ donation for transplantation, we will also be sending outa rallying call to increase the number of women on our national sports team”.


This year the team has gratefully received support from Swim Ireland, Athletics Ireland and Irish Squash. The on-going coaching support from Swim Ireland has been particularly welcomed. Astellas Pharma Ltd. has again provided some sponsorship towards the costs of running the team.

For more information on World Transplant Games and the Irish athletes visit the Irish team blog   

Visit the Games website


 THE FULL IRISH PANEL IS AS FOLLOWS  (their individual ‘athlete profiles’ are on the team blog

ANTRIM: John McAleer, Newtownabbey (kidney) (oldest member of the team)

CAVAN: Aodhagan Cullen, Cavan (kidney)

CLARE: Marie O’Connor, Lahinch (kidney)

CORK: Mike Keohane, Rosscarbery (liver); Charlie Ryan, Cobh (liver); Michael Kiely, Mitchelstown, on the Limerick border (kidney); Pat O’Sullivan, Mallow (kidney)

Michael O’Shea, Mallow (Heart)

DONEGAL:  Kieran Murray, Ramelton (kidney)

GALWAY:  Sinead McGowan, Renmore (living in Australia) (kidney)

KERRY:  Anna Pokojska,Killarney,via Poland  Did the Ring of Kerry Cycle previous day (kidney)

KILDARE: James Nolan, Kilcullen (kidney) International award winning butcher – underwent a living donor kidney transplant 32 years ago (kidney)

KILKENNY VIA LIMERICK: Emma O’Sullivan (kidney)

LIMERICK via UK: Trevor Lynch, Cappamore, (Bone Marrow)

LOUTH: Tommy Marrett, Ardee (kidney)

MAYO via UK: Julie O’Neill, Westport- Award winning businesswoman, underwent living donor transplant from brother 37 years ago (kidney);

MEATH: Tony Gavigan, Navan & native of LONGFORD father of deceased donor (kidney);   

Jerome Lyness, Navan, (kidney);

Rachel Eagleton, Bettystown - youngest female on the team (33) (kidney);

Jack O’Brien, Navan, - youngest member of the team (16) (kidney);

MONAGHAN: Tomas Flannery, Tandarageebane (Lung);

TIPPERARY: Orla Hogan, Nenagh (kidney); Sheila Gregan, Nenagh (kidney);

WATERFORD via Dublin:  Eoin Hurley (age 25, Genetics student at TCD) (kidney)

WESTMEATH: Finian Farrell, Mullingar (kidney); 

Noel Marsden, Athlone (kidney)

John Connell, Mullingar, living in South Africa (kidney);

WICKLOW: Garry Campbell, Greystones (kidney);

Philip Kavanagh, Arklow (liver);

DUBLIN: Ron Grainger, Castleknock, D.15 (kidney);

Harry Ward, Team Captain, Baldoyle, D.13 (kidney);

Paul Prendergast, Santry, D.9 (kidney);

Anthony Byrne, Artane (kidney);

Peter Heffernan, Skerries (kidney);

Leonard Ryan, Tallaght (kidney);

Michael Dwyer, Cabinteely (kidney);

Deirdre Faul, Dalkey (liver);

John Moran, Glasnevin, celebrating 34th anniversary of living donor transplant from brother (kidney) .

TEAM MANAGER, Colin White from Balbriggan, Dublin



For organ donor cards Freetext DONOR to 50050 or visit website    You can also download the IKA’s digital organ donor to your smartphone. Your wishes to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence which is indicated on the back of the card by Code 115. 

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