Dr David Hickey with Cork athletes Catherine Murphy, Aghabullogue and Mike Keohane, Rosscarbery.

TWO athletes from West Cork will travel as members of the Irish team to the European Transplant & Dialysis Games in Croatia later this month.

Mike Keohane from Rosscarbery and Anne Lankester from Reenascreena will be among the 26 athletes who will represent Ireland at the games from August 18th-25th.

Renowned transplant surgeon and three-times All-Ireland football winner Dr David Hickey paid tribute to 26 athletes and gave a special motivational speech to the Irish team as they gathered at Dublin Airport recently.

The games will involve more than 300 athletes from 28 countries throughout Europe.

Every athlete at the games will either have already received a kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas or bone marrow transplant or be on dialysis.

The Irish Team which comprises 17 men and nine women ranging in age from 18 to 74 includes kidney, liver and pancreas transplant recipients as well as people on dialysis.

Dr Hickey said, “The goal of successful organ transplantation is not only to save lives, but also to enable the complete physical, social, mental and spiritual rehabilitation of people with organ failure.

“The success of this aspiration is gloriously seen in this group of heroic warriors who will represent themselves, their donors and Ireland at the Transplant Games & Dialysis Games this August.  They are true Corinthians and more”.

Dr Hickey is Director of Transplantation at Beaumont Hospital and a consultant urologist and has carried out over 1,500 kidney transplants to date.

He won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Irish Healthcare Awards 2011 and is a passionate sportsman and following his All Ireland football success in the 1970s and securing two All Stars, he continued his involvement and is now a selector with the Dublin Senior Football team.

Colin White, Team Manager said, “I am excited about this year’s Games in Zagreb. The Irish Team has a great reputation for fair play and strong competitiveness at international events.

“Our team of 26 competitors, including six newcomers, has prepared well and we are looking forward to joining our friends from across Europe in celebrating life through sport.

“The message from these games is clear, organ donation works. I encourage the public to think about it, talk about it and make a commitment to organ donation.”

Athletes will compete in badminton, tennis, cycling, darts, golf, petanque, swimming, table tennis, ten-pin bowling, tennis, volleyball, mini-marathon and track and field events.