Transplant Games athletes return home to Northern Ireland
ATHLETES who took part in the Transplant Games have returned home to Northern Ireland with a haul of medals.
The 29 athletes touched down in Belfast City Airport yesterday afternoon after competing in the Transplant Games at the weekend in Liverpool.
They achieved a tally of 54 medals – 17 gold, 20 silver and 17 bronze.
Among those who participated were sisters Karen and Jenny Keery, from Bangor.
Karen won two silver and two bronze medals for swimming and the long jump, while Jenny – who donated a kidney to Karen – claimed gold in the donor swim category.
The Transplant Games were held in Liverpool from July 28-31 with more than 700 athletes listed to take part.
Teenager Lucia Quinney-Mee from Ballycastle was among those who took part in the games, competing in the swimming competition and winning seven medals.
The 17-year-old has had three liver transplants after suffering life-threatening liver failure as a young child.
Just 10 months ago the teenager was undergoing her third liver transplant, but she made it her goal to compete in this year's games.
"This year I wasn't expecting too much because last year I was very ill and I wasn't able to compete at all," she told The Irish News.
"It was an incredible weekend, and this year especially was very special to me.
"I was being pushed around a lot of the games in a wheelchair last year, so being back in the pool competing meant a lot."
Speaking to the BBC ahead of the games, the teenager described her gratitude to her organ donors.
"There's not a day goes by that they're not in my thoughts some how throughout the day," she said.
She has launched a campaign called 'Live Loudly, Give Proudly' in a fresh bid to urge people to become organ donors, and to discuss it with family members.
"It's so often a taboo subject to talk about death and dying and any kind of illness where it's something that is a natural part of life and if we can do something at the end of our life that helps others then why not have that conversation," she said.