Jason Smyth’s granda is set to lead a team of Derry renal patients to Glasgow where he’ll follow in the sprint spikes of the world’s fastest paralympian by contesting the 100 metres at the British Transplant Games.
Robert Smyth ( 80), is in rude health over six years after receiving a kidney donation from his beloved daughter, Iilona.
He said he got involved in order to highlight the continuing need for donors, not just of kidneys, but of all organs.
The Eglinton man will be joined by fellow transplant recipients Sharon McCorkell, Kevin Bell and Mark Maguire, who will all be doing their best to bring back the medals from North Lanarkshire between July 27 and July 30.
“I think it’s important to get the message out about transplantation,” said Robert.
“I think more than 50 people died in the UK last year for the want of a kidney, even small children of only three months old.
“Of course, my grandson isJason Smyth. So they put it up to me to run the 100 hundred metres and get a gold. I never ran in my life! It’s about doing our best to represent the North West and get the message out.”
Two-and-a-half years ago Gobnascale woman, Sharon McCorkell, took ill before Christmas. In less than a year she went under the knife in order to receive a life-saving kidney from her brother Gary, a porter at Altnagelvin.
Now she’s off to Scotland to represent the city in the 100 metres, bowling, bowls, shot-put and the three and five thousand metres.
“I hadn’t a clue what was wrong with me. They found out it was the two kidneys and they were only working at five per cent. This was totally out of the blue. I went straight on dialysis,” said Sharon.
Her brother Gary immediately stepped up to the plate.
“I was going to do it no matter what. When it’s your family you just go ahead and do what you have to do.”
Well-known Derry bar man Kevin Bell, who runs the Sugar Complex among other pubs and clubs, will compete at golf, the 10k cycle, and the t3,00 and 5,000 metres. The Galliagh man was diagnosed with poor renal function in 2012 after voluntarily taking part in a diabetes study and being told to report urgently to A&E on an afternoon Celtic were due to play Barcelona in the Champions League. While his abiding memory is one of annoyance at missing the match, he realises how fortunate he was.
“If I hadn’t gone for the diabetes study. I’d probably be dead,” claimed Kevin.
After receiving a kidney from his brother Ciaran, Kevin is now fit and well and up for the games.
“Nearly four years later I’m sitting here fine, the function’s sitting around 55 to 60 per cent.”
Good luck to Team Derry in Glasgow. For more visit: www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk