DCU to host the European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championships

Courtney Fitzmaurice

DCU will host the European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championships 2020, 10 years after the event first took place in Ireland.

Transplant Team Ireland team manager and Irish Kidney Association (IKA) National Projects Manager, Colin White, said DCU is the perfect hub for the competition.

“The location of DCU for access into Dublin is convenient, and from a personal perspective I would lean towards DCU because I like their approach of practical courses,” he said.

White said that DCU’s accommodation, sports facilities and access to the airport made it a great location. The championship’s opening ceremony will be held in the Helix, which he said was a great asset.

From August 2nd to August 9th 2020, over 500 people from over 25 nations will compete in the various games, which include athletics, swimming, tennis and golf.  The event is open to people who have received a transplant or who are on dialysis. 

Transplant Team Ireland athlete and member of the Local Organising Committee, Peter Heffernan has competed in the games in various swimming events.

“When you’re on something like dialysis, what happens is your quality of life reduces and reduces. Maybe you might get up and you go for a half hour walk, and you’re exhausted for the day. When you get your transplant, you discover that you can do stuff, you can get involved in a whole range of things,” he said.

Heffernan remarked how Transplant Team Ireland are an inspiring group of people who encourage him to get involved in things and feels there are people within the team who he can relate to.

“Wherever you are, and maybe more so on dialysis, you’ll realise that you’re not alone. You realise there’s loads of other people around who have similar experiences to you.

“What can happen is you can focus on what you can’t do, whereas when you’re with Transplant Team Ireland, you suddenly realise what you can do,” Heffernan said

Michael Dwyer, member of the Local Organising Committee, said everyone should chat with their families about organ donation.

“When it hits you, it’s a shock because you think you’re fit and well. Unfortunately in my case, somebody had to lose their life for me to get a second chance at life. I’ll be forever grateful for the donor and their family for making that decision,” Dwyer said.

White feels the IKA want to use the championships to show transplant recipients and people on dialysis that they can be active and healthy. He said that they also want to illustrate to the public the benefits of organ donation.

“I could do a newspaper advert and say X number of people are awaiting transplant, this number of people die every day waiting for a transplant, somebody would look at it, probably get terribly depressed and that’s it.

“Whereas we’re gonna have 500 or 600 stories coming here, that could be your neighbour, could be your husband, could be your wife…and it’s going to be “wow, these people have benefited from the gift of life, many from a complete stranger, and look at what they can achieve,” he said.

Seven of the 13 sport events will take place in DCU, with other locations including the National Aquatic Centre and the Phoenix Park.

Courtney Fitzmaurice

Image Credit:  Conor McCabe