Ireland has made huge strides in the diagnosis and outcomes for patients in organ failure, with organ transplantation since its beginning in Ireland back in December 1963 when the first kidney transplant was performed, said Mark Murphy, Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association at the national launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2018.
A large gathering of people involved in organ donation and transplantation attended the official launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2018 last week. The annual life-saving awareness campaign is organised by the Irish Kidney Association and supported by the ODTI (Organ Donation Transplantation Ireland), takes place from 31st March until 7th April. The campaign was officially launched at the Mansion House, Dublin 2 by the Minister of State for Health Promotion and National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, T.D., herself having a personal interest in organ donation. Special guest at the launch was Broadcaster Claire Byrne who has taken up the voluntary role of ambassador for organ donor awareness 2018 and she will feature on posters distributed nationwide and a national radio advertising campaign encouraging families to discuss organ donation.
This year marks some significant milestones for the Irish Kidney Association:
· The 40th anniversary of the organisation, which was founded in April 1978;
· The 40th anniversary of the kidney donor card which has evolved over the years into the organ donor card;
· The 60th Anniversary since the first time dialysis treatment in Ireland in May 1958;
· The 55th anniversary of the first transplant, a kidney transplant, which took place at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital on St. Stephen’s Green carried out on a 21 year old Dublin man, Ted Tobin.
Mr. Murphy explained, “We have come a long way since the Irish Kidney Association began and at that time in 1978 there were only three places in Ireland for patients with kidney failure to undergo dialysis treatment. Today there are 23 locations around the country.”
2017 was a record year for organ transplantation for Ireland with a total of 327 organs being transplanted into 321 patients including a total of 23 children/paediatric transplants.
It is thanks to the gift of organ donation that almost 3500 transplanted people in Ireland are enjoying extended life. At the end of 2017, there were 524 people active on the various transplant waiting pools for heart, liver, kidney, lung and pancreas.
Mr. Murphy said, “Advancements in medicine, combined with our hospitals successful transplanting teams and the generosity of families of deceased and living donors has led to this very positive outcome. We hope that this can give hope to the people in transplant waiting pools and the many more people in organ failure hoping to be listed for a lifesaving transplant”.
Mr. Murphy continued, “the selfless and profound generosity of the families of 99 deceased donors in Ireland resulted in a total of 260 deceased donor transplants taking place in 2017. The 260 deceased donor organ transplants comprised 141 kidneys, 62 Liver, 16 Heart, 36 Lungs and 5 pancreas transplants”. A record of 51 living donor kidney transplants were also carried out by the Beaumont Hospital transplant team. Last year the record 311 transplants were carried out at Ireland’s three transplanting hospitals. Of these 311 transplants, Beaumont carried out 12 paediatric kidney transplants in Temple Street Hospital from both living and deceased donors”.
Mark Murphy said, “We are aware that an additional 15 Irish patients underwent 16 HSE funded transplants in the UK comprising of 8 paediatric liver transplants, 2 paediatric lung transplants and 1 paediatric heart transplant. 11 paediatric organ transplants in total. 3 paired exchange kidney transplants (kidney swap) and 1 combined heart and lung transplant. For the first time in 39 years, transplantation is keeping up with dialysis, with 2,074 people on dialysis, this is one less person on dialysis than in the previous year 2016.”
Professor Jim Egan, Director, HSE Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) said, “I wish to congratulate both the Irish Kidney Association on their 40th Anniversary and the National Renal Transplant Service at Beaumont Hospital who recently completed their 5000th kidney transplant”.
In 2017, Beaumont Hospital carried out a total of 192 kidney transplants comprising 141 from deceased donors and a record 51 from living donors.
The Mater Misericordiae Hospital carried out 16 heart transplants and 36 lung transplants in 2017. The 36 lung transplants matched its record figure from two years previous.
St. Vincent’s University Hospital carried out 62 liver transplants and 5 pancreas transplants combined with kidney transplants in 2017.
The key message of Organ Donor Awareness Week is that families need to talk to each other about organ donation and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the organ donor card and permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.
Organ Donor Awareness Week also serves as a fundraising exercise for the Irish Kidney Association. Throughout the Week (31st March - 7th April 2018), the Association’s volunteers will be out on the streets, and in shopping centres throughout the country, distributing organ donor cards while selling 'forget-me-not-flower' emblems, brooches, lapel pins, pens and shopping trolley discs. All proceeds will go towards the Irish Kidney Association’s aid for patients on dialysis and those patients fortunate enough to have received a kidney transplant. The Irish Kidney Association’s charitable activities include the provision of a 13-double bedroom, free accommodation facility for patients and their families in the grounds of Beaumont Hospital and holiday centres located in Tramore and Kerry, together with patient advocacy, advice, counselling, financial aid and rehabilitative, health promotion through sport and the provision of kidney patient information and education through its head office in Dublin and its 25 branch network of volunteers throughout the country.
Free information fact files, which accompany organ donor cards, are obtainable from the Irish Kidney Association and are available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries and Citizen Information Offices.
Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association tel. 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie/card