Skerries Man Shines At World Transplant Games

Peter HeffernanSkerries man, Peter Heffernan is pictured with his haul of two gold medals and one bronze medal, which he won for swimming at the World Transplant Games in Argentina

Transplant Team Ireland arrived home from the World Transplant Games in Argentina to Dublin airport recently. The four person team brought with them a haul of 13 medals, including seven gold, four silver and two bronze. After a long journey home which started on Sunday, the kidney and liver transplant recipients were greeted at Dublin airport’s Terminal 1 by a large gathering of supporters including family, friends, and fellow transplant recipients. Despite the team’s small size, Ireland was placed 15th on the medals table out of 44 countries at the Games, which involved just under 800 (799) organ transplant participants. Peter Heffernan, from Skerries was one of the stand out performers on the Irish team. Peter received a kidney transplant in 2011 and is a keen swimmer. He won two gold medals, in the 50m backstroke, and 100m backstroke, as well as a bronze medal for the 100m freestyle event in his 50-59 year old age category.
Speaking to the County Leader, Peter, who is a civil engineer based in Skerries, was clearly delighted with his wonderful achievement, when he said, “The Games gave me an overwhelming sense of the gift I have received from my donor and family. The hundreds of athletes who have participated in these games all testify to this sense of gratitude. One of the highlights of the week for me was when Erica, who is from Argentina, said that attending these Games has changed her, as they have opened her eyes to the importance of organ donation and she will talk to all her family and friends about carrying a donor card. She said that all the athletes were inspiring.”
He continued, “As a country, we punched way above our weight, with only four athletes, as well as our team manager, Colin White from Balbriggan. You are always conscious about your donor and their family and the overwhelming feeling of gratitude to them, even though you do not know their identity. It’s remarkable that, even in their darkest hour, they still think of others. This is a second chance for me and the Games are a way of promoting people to carry donor cards to help others, like me, by providing a gift of life.” “Somebody has given me a gift of life and it’s very important to do my best with this gift. I chose to do it through sport, especially swimming. I used to swim and play water polo for Clontarf Swimming Club, before my transplant, now I swim for Skerries Swimming Club,” said Peter, who received a great welcome on his return to his home town of Skerries.