Dungiven GAA clubs ‘Opt for Life’

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All Ireland winner and Dungiven man Joe Brolly will speak at a special ‘organ donation support’ day in the town later this month organised by the local GAA clubs.

James McMacken, vice chairperson of Kevin Lynch Hurling Club and PRO for St. Canice’s GAC, is hoping to get as much support as possible.

“We have asked all sporting clubs and non-sporting clubs in the parish to help support this,” James told the ‘Journal’ yesterday. “The hurling club is planning the support day on 25th May, and we are doing this to support Joe Brolly and the ongoing ‘Opt for Life’ campaign. While the hurling club is going to be the base for the day, we hope to get all the clubs and community groups in the town on board. The more people taking part and in attendance the better.”

Joe Brolly, who donated a kidney to a friend, is appealing to the public to support his Opt For Life campaign.

Under the scheme people would not need to carry organ donor cards. Each person would become a potential organ donor at death unless they chose to opt out.

Last year, the former Derry player donated a kidney to fellow coach at St Brigid’s GAC in Belfast, Shane Finnegan (40). Unfortunately the kidney failed, but Joe became deeply involved in the ‘Opt For Life’ campaign. He says the campaign is about creating awareness and a “more sensible system where organ donation just becomes part and parcel of dying, just as it is in countries like Belgium, Spain, Croatia and Portugal”.

During the support day in Dungiven, Joe will be on hand to speak with people and answer any queries.

“I was a member of both the hurling club and the football club since I was a child and all my family and friends are there, so this is something very good and very positive for the clubs to be involved in,” he says.

Joe says it’s not the first time the clubs have encouraged community involvement in campaigns, such as blood drives, “and they’re always great community days.”

The dad-of-five says the day will also be a way of marking events over the past year, not just concerning his own case but also that of local teen, Ryan O’Connor. The 18-year-old received a heart transplant last year but then he tragically lost both his legs following complications from the life saving operation. Ryan inspired people around the country with his attitude that it was the start of a new chapter for him. Just a couple of weeks ago Ryan was back walking using prosthetic legs.

Joe adds; “The ladies’ Gaelic football club is doing great work and I think this is a way by both the hurling and football clubs of marking all that and it sends out a very good and very positive message.”

All groups meet at Kevin Lynch Park at 11am for a fun walk at 11.15am around the Black Bog. Noon will signal refreshments for all participants, and Joe Brolly will speak about the ‘Opt for Life’ campaign for 10 minutes. Following that there will be an oportunity for participants to sign up at stations with leaflets and advice available to discuss the processes involved.

“This is roughly how we hope the morning will pan out, although only allowing 10 minutes for Joe to talk may be optimistic!” said Mr. McMacken. “It is a great cause so hopefully the whole community will get behind it. If anyone has any queries contact any member of the hurling club committee for more information.”