A Ramelton man is bringing home gold from the European Transplant and Dialysis Games, which continue in Krakow, Poland, this week.
Kieran Murray, a newcomer to Transplant Team Ireland, has won gold medals in two events, the 5K race and yesterday’s golf singles event.
He said he went into the games hoping to finish the 5K with a personal best, and he did, shaving four seconds from his time. Winning a gold medal, “exceeded all my expectations,” he said, speaking to the Democrat on the phone from Krakow.
“Thanks to my donor - without them I wouldn’t have this opportunity - and thanks so much for the support of my family, friends and Milford Athletics Club,” he said.
The games continue through Aug. 23rd, and Kieran is also competing in the 1,500 metre, the 800 metre, the 100-metre relay and the ball throw.
He earned his first gold medal on the first day of the games, Aug. 17th, and offered his congratulations to Hugo Boyce from Clonmany, who put in a good performance in the Petanque singles and doubles.
Kieran said his main reason for taking part is to raise awareness of the importance of transplants and organ donation, not personal achievement.
“Even if it helps one person, it makes a big difference,” he said. Kieran said every athlete he has met in the games has been an inspiration. He spoke of a bone marrow recipient who could not walk four years ago. In Krakow, the same man competed in the 5K.
“It’s absolutely brilliant to see everybody else competing with different transplants,” he said. “It just goes to show that organ donation works.”
Kieran received his first kidney transplant in 2000, and was told he could expect it to last, on average, 10 years. He received a second kidney in May 2013 and thanks to advances in medicine, this kidney should last for 16 years.
Prior to his transplant last year, Kieran said he would find himself out of breath if he ran from the car into a shop. “If somebody said to me last year, ‘You’re going to do a 5K and win a gold medal’, I’d say, ‘Not a chance.’”
After his 2013 surgery he began walking every day, until he started running in January. Kieran and his wife, Olivia, have two young daughters, age 4 and nearly 2. “They see me running all the time now,” he said.
Kieran learned of the European games in December, through a fellow kidney recipient in Ballybofey, and the two men this year organised fundraisers for the Irish Kidney Association and for participation in the games. The Donegal branch of the Liverpool Supporters Club sponsored a signed Liverpool jersey for a raffle.
Kieran said he received advice from a number of people during his training. “They pushed me to my limit and encouraged me more than anything.”
Now he wants to encourage people to carry an organ donor card.
“Last year I couldn’t run 50 yards, never mind 5k,” Kieran said. “Everybody should be thinking about carrying a donor card, because you never know.”
“It’s not often you get a second chance,” he said. “I got a third chance, so it’s a whole new life and you enjoy every day you get up.”