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National Transplant Week: Thanks to their donors these athletes won gold for … – Belfast

Fighting fit and feeling strong, these athletes will never forget the people who made it possible for them to compete on a world stage.

But for once it is not their trainers they want to thank but their donors because all four of these athletes are transplant patients.

Kathryn Glover, Catherine Annesley, Phil Cairnduff and Matthew Quinn all represented Northern Ireland in the World Transplant Games for Team GBNI over the summer in Argentina – and together brought back 12 medals.

Now, to mark National Transplant Week, the team are sharing their success stories and urging people to speak to their families about their organ donation wishes.

Kathryn, from Ballygowan in Co Down, was struck down with kidney disease IgA Nephropathy in 2005 and her organs went from 70% functionality to just 5%.

She was put on dialysis at 24 and was on the transplant waiting list for four years before she got a second chance at life.

Speaking about competing in Argentina, she told Belfast Live: “I was very pleased, relieved to be honest, it was tough going in that it was six hours of competition, two days and it was very hot.

“It was an amazing experience. It was fabulous to go and see such inspiring people celebrating the gift of life.”

Kathryn wrote to the family of her donor, a young girl with a boyfriend who died in traumatic circumstances, six months after her transplant to say thank you.

Speaking about her donor, Kathryn, a teacher at Cedar Integrated Primary School, said: “The main thing we want to say is a massive thank you to our organ donors and their families because without them we would not have been there.

“Now more than ever it is absolutely essential people have that awkward conversation with their loved ones about organ donation as there’s still a massive shortage especially things like bone marrow.”

Kathryn won three gold medals and two silver in her swimming categories; Liver transplant athlete Phil, from Belfast, won a gold and two silver in running and walking events; Liver recipient Catherine, from West Belfast, walked away with a gold and two bronze medals also in running and walking events; and heart recipient Matthew, from Coleraine, won a bronze medal in squash.

The team are now eyeing up the next World Transplant Games which will take place in Malaga in 2017.

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