Five men from Cork are part of the 39-member Transplant Team Ireland representing the country next month in the World Transplant Games.
Ranging in age from 16 to 81, the team of 29 men and 10 women, have all undergone organ transplants including one heart, one lung, five liver, one bone marrow and 31 kidney.
The largest ever Irish Transplant Team travelling abroad, they will be among 2000 participants from over 60 countries who will take part in the World Transplant Games 2019 in Newcastle Gateshead, UK next month (17-24 August).
Representing Cork are two men who have had kidney transplants — Michael Kiely from Mitchelstown and Pat O’Sullivan from Mallow — and two more who have had liver transplants — Mike Keohane from Rosscarbery and Charlie Ryan from Cobh. Mallow man Michael O’Shea participates having had a heart transplant.
Between them, the five will take part in shot put, racewalking, discus, darts, petanque, ten-pin bowling, golf, running, cycling, ball throw and long jump events.
This week they gathered for a motivational talk from 19-year-old international para-athlete Mary Fitzgerald, who is studying occupational therapy at UCC.
Sport has a huge part to play in our wellbeing and it unites people,” she said. “Transplant Team Ireland shares my excitement, pride and heartfelt honour to be able to represent our country.”
The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for Ireland’s involvement in the games and national projects manager Colin White is the team manager.
“I am excited about the diverse nature of this year’s squad who will represent Ireland at the World Transplant Games 2019,” he said.
“Our five 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.”