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The European Transplant & Dialysis Sports

        Championships –A PERSONAL ACCOUNT                                              By DEE KEOHANE

                                                                                humour and warm personality has
                                                                                endeared him to all he meets and
                                                                                every year people from other nations
                                                                                ask Is Harry here? Surprisingly, they
                                                                                can all understand his strong Dublin
                                                                                accent (well all except Mike!).
                                                                                  We also have a team doctor Claire
                                                                                Kennedy whose professionalism and
                                                                                dedication is of huge comfort to those
                                                                                travelling with a variety of medical
                                                                                baggage. PR ‘guru’ Sarah May records
                                                                                all the events of the week – hugely
                                                                                important in highlighting the need for
                                                                                Organ Donation and all these vital
                                                                                aspects of Transplant Team Ireland are
                                                                                overseen by IKA CEO Mark Murphy,
               uring the cold and dark      and the life stories that we have been  who must be congratulating himself
               month of January 2008,       honoured to hear and share. In the  on a ‘dream team’.
               Transplant Championships     middle of all of this, there is a lot of  This year, we travelled to Helsinki,
        Dseemed like a million miles        laughter, fun and camaraderie, maybe  in Finland for the 9th European
        away and an impossible ask. Following  even some disagreements...Transplant  Transplant & Dialysis Championships.
        his transplant on Christmas Day, my  Team Ireland is, in all senses, a family.  Helsinki is an unusual city and whilst it
        husband Mike had suffered major       Supporters are as much part of    may not have been on my wish list, it
        rejection of his new liver. It was a very  Transplant Team Ireland as the athletes  has a certain quirky charm. Built
        challenging time but the mention of  and this surprised me, in a good way.  around its coveted harbour, there is a
        the Transplant Games seemed to      We go to all the nightly team       strong sense of its violent past.
        promise a future without pain. Often  meetings, support at all the events  Everywhere is clean and tidy and the
        times, as he struggled down the     and help out in any way we can – it is  constant brightness, throughout the
        corridors of St. Vincent’s Hospital, in  fully inclusive and we are all made feel  summer nights, is unusual and at
        Dublin, we would say: “We’ll look   that we play a valuable part in the  times disconcerting.
        back on this when you win a medal   week. This is the team ethos          The food is different with fish a key
        and it will be all worthwhile”.     promoted so positively by Team      staple...we resisted the Rudolph
           It seemed an eternity away and   Manager Colin White. Always         Special Pizza made with reindeer
        indeed an empty promise. But now,   unflappable and calm in every       meat! But, the people are very friendly
        after eight Transplant Games and    situation (I have seen him tested in the  – quite reserved and they seem to be
        several medals later, I thank God for  extreme), Colin’s professional   used to living life to a strict routine. So
        all donors and for the gift of good  approach and capable manner make   during our week in July, they had to
        health. And yes, it has all been so  him the ideal negotiator and mediator.  adjust to the raucous laughter of the
        worthwhile, not for the medals won –  He organises, advises, consults,  Irish well into the early hours. But by
        which, of course are treasured – but  placates and is on constant call during  the end of the week, it was funny to
        the experience of these Transplant  the week. It is not surprising that  hear them join in to the chorus of
        Championships that is so much more  other teams often seek him out to fix  Molly Malone.
        than medals. It is the people we have  their issues also.                 I firmly believe that Transplant Team
        met, the friends we have made,        Colin is ably assisted by Team    Ireland does more for Irish tourism
        unique places we have travelled to  Captain Harry Ward. whose unique    that any brochure ever could –

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