Bettystown woman Rachel Eagleton with the silver medal she won at the 2017 World Transplant Games in Malaga.
A woman from Bettystown and a man from Ardee are among the 39 members of Transplant Team Ireland who will be representing Ireland at the World Transplant Games in Gateshead, UK next month (17-24 August).
Ranging in age from 16 to 81, the team of 29 men and 10 women, have all undergone organ transplants including 1 heart, 1 lung, 5 livers, 1 bone marrow and 31 kidneys. They are the largest ever Irish Transplant Team travelling abroad and they will be among 2000 participants from over 60 countries to take part.
Bettystown woman Rachel Eagleton received a kidney transplant in 1996 when she was just nine years old. She is the the only daughter of Tom and Gladys Eagleton and has one brother, Mark.
Rachel is no stranger to international competition having represented Ireland at three previous World Transplant Games, in Canada, Thailand and Spain. She will be competing at this year’s World Transplant Games in the 30-39 category in Tennis Singles and Doubles (partnering with Sheila Gregan).
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In Canada, she won Gold medals in both singles and doubles, she also won medals in Thailand, and a silver in Spain in 2017. She also won two Gold medals in Germany at the European Transplant and Dialysis Games in 2008.
Speaking to Drogheda Life in 2017, after her silver medal performance in Malaga, Rachel said: “You do this for your donor and to show other people who are in the same situation I was that there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is life after a transplant.”
Adding to that sentiment yesterday she said: “Being part of Transplant Team Ireland is good fun as there is great team spirit and camaraderie. By taking part in the Games, our team, and all the participants from across the world are showcasing how important organ donation is and the difference it can make for transplant recipients and their families."
Tommy Marrett (above) from Ardee received a living donor kidney transplant from his sister in 2016. He will be competing in this year’s World Transplant Games in the 50-59 years category in Badminton Doubles (partnering with Noel Marsden), Badminton Singles, Ten Pin Bowling Singles and Petanque Singles.
This will be Tommy’s first World Games, but he is no stranger to sports and fitness as he is a 4th Dan Black Belt in Karate. Tommy also works in Web Development and Photography.
He says, “I intend to compete to the best of my ability and regardless how I do I will support my team members in all there events. I expect to see a real team spirit develop and friendships grow which will continue throughout the year & ongoing.
‘Regardless of what level you play at, just enjoy the experience. The team members will support you 100% and become more of a family than a team.”
Colin White, the National Projects Manager of the Irish Kidney Association which is responsible for Ireland’s involvement in the Games, said he was excited about the diverse nature of this year's Ireland squad at the Games.
“We cover a wide range of sports and have a variety of levels of experience too. Our five competitors over the age of 70 are a fantastic example to us all in that sport can, and should, be a life-long habit. Each competitor is an ambassador in their own right and collectively the team sends out a wonderfully uplifting message about how life can be post-transplant”.
The Honorary Chairman of the Irish Kidney Association Colin MacKenzie said, “We are committed to increasing the profile of women involved in our sports programme through our website and social media channels. With our hosting of next year's European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championships in Dublin next summer whilst our primary goal is to promote the importance and success of organ donation for transplantation, we will also be sending out a rallying call to increase the number of women on our national sports team”.