A determined Luton businessman returned victorious from the European Transplant Sport Championship in a bid to raise awareness about organ donation.
Dino Maroudias, 52, and his fellow GB transplant athletes, were proud to win Overall Best Team Trophy at the prestigious sporting event, held this year in Cagliari, Sardinia, from June 17 - 24.
The inspirational GB athletes, who are all organ and bone marrow transplant recipients and dialysis patients, won an impressive medal haul: 165 in total, including 67 gold, 43 silver and 55 bronze.
Dino, who has survived both kidney and pancreas transplants, said: “The team jelled really well and our manager, Lynne Holt, is very proud of us all. It’s all about the friendship and the camaraderie.
“I won four bronze medals, which were for the pétanque singles, pétanque doubles, table tennis, and badminton.
“I also took part in tennis, which was the hardest - I was playing the Hungarian version of Rafael Nadal!
“Pétanque [similar to boules] was my favourite; it was at the beach and we just had a nice, relaxing day.”
But behind the glamour and fun of the games is a serious message, because the transplant athletes - from over 25 different countries - are hoping to increase numbers on the organ donor register wherever the games are being held, as well as in their home countries.
Dino, a husband and father of four, was diagnosed with diabetes at 18 years old.
In 2007 the brave businessman had a transplant after being diagnosed with kidney failure in 2006, the new kidney donated by his brother, Andy. He also had a pancreas transplant in 2012, trying to cure his diabetes.
Dino said: “I’m passionate about promoting organ donation after death and if you have a donor card make sure you have the donation conversation. The card can be overruled if you don’t talk to your parents [or next of kin] and encourage them to carry our your wishes.”
5,900 people in the UK are estimated to be waiting for an organ transplant, with three people dying each day whilst waiting to find a match.
Team Great Britain (GB) is supported by the charity, Transplant Sport.
> Organ Donation Register: organdonation.nhs.uk