This year is expected to be a record year for kidney transplants in Ireland, the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) has said.
According to IKA chief executive, Mark Murphy, the combination of deceased donors, together with the successful new Living Transplant Programme at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, should lead to a record number of kidney transplants in 2009.
There were 10 living kidney transplants in 2008, i.e. where a kidney is donated by a living person, and the projections for this year are that up to 30 such procedures will take place.
The figures were released at the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week, which will take place from March 28 to April 4.
However while welcoming the news on kidney transplants, Mr Murphy warned that there is a need for more deceased organ donors before levels of heart, lung and liver transplantation can increase.
For this to happen, a number of things are needed, including trained donor coordinators and a transplant authority, Mr Murphy said.
Last year, there were 136 deceased donor kidney transplants performed at Beaumont Hospital and a record 12 of these transplants also included simultaneous transplant of a pancreas. Ten extra kidney transplants were conducted via living donors making an overall total of 146 kidney transplants in Ireland in 2008, the same amount as in 2006 and 2007.
Meanwhile the Mater Hospital carried out four heart transplant operations last year, compared to seven in 2007, and four lung tranplants, the same amount as 2007. A further six lung tranplants were conducted in the UK on behalf of Irish patients last year.
At St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, 58 liver transplants were carried out last year.
The IKA noted that overall, 81 deceased donors provided 210 organs for transplantation in Ireland in 2008, compared to 88 deceased donors in 2007.
Currently in Ireland, over 600 people are awaiting life saving transplant operations, while almost 2,400 people here are enjoying extended life as a result of receiving organ transplants.
Organ Donor Awareness Week, which is organised by the IKA and supported by the Irish Donor Network, aims to highlight the plight of people with organ failure and the ongoing need for organ donation for transplantation, to encourage more people to make an informed decision to carry an organ donor card and to donate their organs in the event of their untimely death.
During the week, volunteers will be on the streets and in shopping centres throughout the country selling 'forget me not flower' emblems (the symbol of transplantation), broaches, car magnets and organ donor keyrings. Proceeds will go to the IKA’s support programme for patients on dialysis and those patients fortunate enough to have a kidney transplant.
The support programme includes the running of a renal support centre in Beaumont Hospital and holiday centres in Kerry and Tramore, as well as patient aid and counseling services, patient training and rehabilitative work placement, health promotion and the provision of kidney patient information and education.
The IKA is the organisation charged with the promotion and distribution of organ donor cards in Ireland on behalf of all patient groups with an interest in organ donation who form the Irish Donor Network.
Organ donor cards can be obtained by phoning the IKA on 1890 543 639 or texting the word DONOR to 50050. Texts are free of charge. The cards are also available in pharmacies, GP surgeries and Citizen Information Offices.
For more information, see…http://www.ika.ie
As well as a focus on donors I think it is important too to focus on the causes of kidney disease and investigate prevention and cures.