A Galway woman, who will represent Ireland at the World Transplant Games, has spoken about how organ donation changed her life.
Renmore native Sinead McGowan, who received a kidney transplant from her brother eight years ago, is set to compete at the Games later this month.
Ms McGowan was diagnosed with Lupus in 1991 and, at that stage, had already lost 50 per cent of her kidney function. In late 2008 her kidney function dropped below 10 per cent and she was forced to go on peritoneal dialysis every day for 10 months before receiving a transplant in the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead in London in October 2009.
The kidney, which she received from her brother Seamus, has transformed her life and she has since travelled the world, is now living and working in Balmain, Australia.
Ahead of the World Transplant Games, which run from 25 June to 2 July in Malaga, Ms McGowan is urging families to discuss organ donation.
“This is the most important part of the games. Hopefully, people will have a chat with their nearest and dearest and let them know their willingness to donate should that occasion arise. It has changed my life, it gave me back my life. I guess that’s why they call it the gift of life.”
No stranger to the Games, Sinead previously competed in 2011 and 2013 and said preparations are in full swing for this year’s competition.
She will compete in the 1500m, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay, 400m, virtual triathlon, 5k road race, 30k cycling road race as well as the 400m freestyle swimming event.
“I have been training for the last six months, 5-6 days a week either running, swimming or cycling, really just keeping it ticking over. I have been lucky to have no injuries so hopefully I should get to the games in full fitness and injury free,” she said.
With temperatures in Malaga set to hit 27 degrees for the Games, Ms McGowan added that the Australian weather has prepared her well.
She will join the 29 strong Transplant Team Ireland in Spain and said she is looking forward to meeting up with her fellow athletes.
“They are a great fun team and we always have a great sing song at the end of the games. It’s also great to meet friends from other countries that I have met down through the years.”
Ranging in age from 30 to 79, Transplant Team Ireland includes five liver transplant recipients and 24 who have undergone kidney transplants.
For organ donor cards Freetext DONOR to 50050 or visit www.ika.ie/card. You can also download the IKA’s new digital donor card by visiting www.donor.ie on your smartphone. Your wishes to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence which is represented by Code 115.