The Public Health Agency (PHA) would like to congratulate local transplant recipients who sported their running shoes at the weekend (Saturday, 13th October) to take part in a Fun Run to highlight organ donation.
Almost 400 adults and children from across the island of Ireland supported the family event called ‘Run for a Life,’ which was organised by the Irish Kidney Association and took place at Park West Business Park, Dublin.
The fundraising event, which is a celebration of life through sport, coincided with the European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation, which is organised by the Council of Europe and aims to raise awareness about the increasing demand for organ donors for transplantation as 61,000 people throughout Europe are currently awaiting organ transplants.
Now in its fourth year, the ‘Run for a Life’ has two main objectives. Namely, increasing public awareness of the value and success of organ donation and transplantation through the organ donor card and raising funds to support the Irish Kidney Association in its on-going work. (www.runforalife.ie)
Among those supporting the ‘Run for a Life’ event were kidney dialysis patients in a bid, to highlight the plight of the 650 patients in Ireland who are in the various transplant pools awaiting organs (including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas).
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency and Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee for Organ Donation, said: “Run for a Life is an excellent opportunity to come together to celebrate the gift of life and show support for organ donation. The success of the transplant athletes from Northern Ireland who took part in various aspects of ‘Run for a Life’ shows the positive outcomes that transplantation has for individuals and the real need for more people to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Orla Smyth, 33, from Belfast, who is a kidney recipient and finished third in the female 10km race, said: “Because of the amazing generosity of my donor and her family I am approaching my fifth year as a transplanted patient, fit and healthy, and I am so grateful for that. The past 18 months have seen me complete my first marathon in under four hours (can’t leave that bit out!), take part in my first World Transplant Games, winning five gold medals and setting three world records and then being part of the victorious Northern Ireland team at the British Transplant Games at home in Belfast in 2011 and in Medway this year.”
Janet Coleman, 48, from Belfast, who received her second kidney transplant only three months ago, completed the 6.7km distance in the walk event. She said: “My sister Pam donated one of her kidneys to me and we both have made a full recovery. I just wanted to join in to celebrate getting my fitness and my life back on track. We are both passionate about sport and it’s great to be able to use sport to demonstrate the success of transplantation and create greater public awareness about organ donation, particularly the Live Donor programme.”
Colin White, race organiser, (Irish Kidney Association), explained: “This has been another successful year for ‘Run for a Life’ with almost 400 people turning up to demonstrate solidarity through participation in this fun family event. The event showcases the success of organ donation and transplantation with many transplant recipients taking part, and some who just received transplants in recent months.”
The PHA’s Dr Rooney concluded: “There are now over 537,000 registrants on the Organ Donation Register in Northern Ireland which is fantastic news, however more needs to be done as there are over 300 people in Northern Ireland who are currently waiting for a live saving transplant.
“I would like everyone to show their appreciation of our transplant athletes by signing the Organ Donor Register and speaking to family and friends about their wishes. By giving just two minutes of our time to register today, we can help save lives – there can be no better gift than this."
Contact the PHA communications office on 028 90553663