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Transplant hero John goes for gold


GRATITUDE: John Moran and his donor brother Frank, left

GRATITUDE: John Moran and his donor brother Frank, left

GRATITUDE: John Moran and his donor brother Frank, left

THIS Dubliner – who had a kidney transplant almost three decades ago – is eyeing up gold at a top athletics event.

John Moran is on his way to South Africa today for the World Transplant Games.

This is the seventh time that the 54-year-old will have taken part in the event – he already has a haul of medals to his credit for both cycling and track events.

John is part of a team of 24 Irish athletes taking part in this year's games in Durban, all of whose entrants have had pancreas, heart, liver or kidney transplants.

It is 28 years since the Glasnevin man received a kidney from his older brother Frank and he has never looked back.

"One of the main reasons I got involved in the games is to show people how healthy you can be after a transplant," he said.

John always knew he would need a transplant at some stage.

Aged 26, he was put on dialysis and the transplant list. When no kidney was available, doctors carried out tests on his seven brothers and sisters.

"Three were a match, but my eldest brother, Frank, who is five years older than me, was the best match," he said.

"He donated a kidney and from the day of the operation it worked perfectly."

John attended his first games in Austria in 1987, and went on to break the 5,000m record for the 18-29 age category in Singapore two years later.

Ten years later in Budapest he became the world record holder in the 1,500m race.

In the last games in Sweden two years ago, he took the biggest medal haul of the Irish team, with two gold and three silver medals for cycling and track events.

Now the father of four – Paul (23), Michelle (21), Stephen (19) and Sarah (15) – says he is more determined that ever to win.

The Irish transplant team includes 10 women and 14 men from all over Ireland, ranging in age from 12 to 68.

The team is managed by the Irish Kidney Association, which sends a team doctor, physiotherapist and manager.

John trains by cycling from Glasnevin to Mulhuddart every day for work and running around a local park during his lunch break.

He says he is delighted to be going and is undaunted by the fact that he may have to do five-kilometre cycle trial on Tuesday, followed by a 20-kilometre race on Wednesday.

This could be followed by a 1,500m and 800m track event later in the week.

All of the team members are on anti-rejection drugs.

John explains that the only difference with transplant athletes is that they have to make sure they are taking their drugs.