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Transplant heroes bring medals home

Home are the heroes as a group of inspirational athletes returned with a haul of medals from the European Transplant and Dialysis Sports championships.

There was a rapturous welcome for the 34-strong team who touched down at Dublin Airport with their impressive medals tally of 18 gold, 18 silver and 31 bronze medals from Poland.

James Reynolds (27), a kidney transplant recipient from Tallaght was welcomed home by his 21-month-old niece Erin. The Dubliner won gold in the bowling doubles event with Galway teammate Zimele Brown, and two bronze medals in petanque and darts.

"It's fantastic to be placed in the top three on the medals table out of 24 countries," said the Ireland team manager Colin White.


"The championships were very well organised by the Polish hosts," he said.

"Each and every member of transplant team Ireland proved to be great ambassadors for organ donation both on and off the competitive field. Each of them wore their Irish kit with pride and honour."

Mr White added that the ten newcomers to the team this year are "tremendous additions".

This year, the athletes included 25 men and nine women ranging in age from 16 to 76 years, with 29 transplant recipients as well as five people who are receiving dialysis treatment.

"Every performance at the championships is worthy of note," said Mr White. "Some highlights are the great performances by the newcomers, including Sean Marshall from Kerry, Zimele Brown from Galway and Kieran Murray from Donegal."

Urologist and kidney transplant recipient Ron Grainger from Castleknock put in a fantastic performance in golf when he was paired with James Nolan, and the duo bagged a gold and silver medal respectively.

Mr Nolan (47) from Kilcullen arrived back home with his wife Emma and one-year-old son Andrew James who had travelled to Poland to support him.

The multi-award winning butcher is enjoying the longest successful transplant which he received 27 years ago from his donor sister Catherine.

The Irish Kidney Association was responsible for the coordination and organisation of the team's participation in the championships.

Some athletes competed in a biathlon event for the first time this year.