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Saturday 21 October 2017

Double-op survivor ready to face his 'biggest challenge'

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

LIAM DUFFY (right) spent two years in a wheelchair and underwent a heart and double lung transplant, but the sports enthusiast is now preparing for one of the biggest-ever challenges -- representing his country.

The 23-year-old, from Glan, Kilkelly, Co Mayo, is the youngest member of the Irish squad at the European Transplant and Dialysis Games, which begin in Dublin today.

Despite suffering from cystic fibrosis, Liam has never allowed his condition to sway him from his love of sports. A talented GAA player, he has won under-18 and under-21 medals at county level and now manages and coaches his local under-16 team.

However, his sporting career was almost cut short when his disease worsened at the age of 10 and he was left in a wheelchair.

It was another two years before Liam had a heart and double lung transplant at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London, which gave him a new lease of life. "It was kind of frightening... I had been wheelchair-bound for two years and I found that very hard. But since the operation, I've had no problems and no set-backs."

It was while undergoing a check-up at the Mater Hospital in Dublin earlier this year that his doctor suggested he try out for the Transplant Games, which are being held in Ireland for the first time.

He will compete in four events -- 10-pin bowling, darts, ball-throw and petanque, which is a form of the French game boules.

"The nerves are getting there at this stage but the team is confident enough of bringing home a few medals," added Liam.

Irish Independent

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