PHOTO GALLERY: Triumphant homecoming for Kildare's European Transplant Games medallists

Welcome at airport

Laura Coates


Laura Coates

There was a warm welcome home at Dublin airport last Sunday for Kildare's two European Transplant and Dialysis Championships medallists.

Eddie McAuliffe, from Kill, who now lives in Portarlington, won a gold for darts, silver for golf and bronze in Petanque.

Teammate and veteran games competitor James Nolan, from Kilcullen, won gold in golf and silver for the 400m.

Both men have undergone living donor kidney transplants from their sisters.

The ninth European Transplant and Dialysis games were held in Vantaa, Finland last week. Ireland sent 28 athletes who took home 69 medals in total, taking fifth place overall. Each athlete has been an organ donor recipient or is on dialysis.

Mr McAuliffe underwent a kidney transplant from his donor sister Ann, from Kill, in 2008. "I wasn't expecting to do so well, so I'm delighted," he said after scooping his darts gold. "There were a few very close matches but it's great to come out with the gold."

Mr Nolan, who runs the family butchers business in Kilcullen, is the driving force behind the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund, which has raised over €1.3 million through its annual fundraising race at the National Hunt Festival.

His sister Catherine donated a kidney to him 29 years ago. After winning silver in his 400m in heavy rain last Friday, he said: "This time last year I was on my back following a hip replacement so it was really enjoyable to be able to get out and run. I'd like to acknowledge Kevin Walker for helping me get back up and running after my operation."