The demand for kidney transplants is so high in Ireland, a second kidney transplanting hospital is urgently required, the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) has said.
Kidney transplants are currently carried out in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital, however according to Mark Murphy of the IKA, the current infrastructure in place for living and deceased kidney donations ‘cannot keep up with the demand'.
"Beaumont Hospital is unable to do this alone - it is proving too much to ask of its size of an acute hospital. We urgently need a second kidney transplanting hospital if we are serious about tackling this problem," he commented.
At the end of 2015, there were 2,015 people in Ireland receiving dialysis treatment and 2,314 living with a kidney transplant. This is a total of 4,329 people with end stage kidney disease or 930 per million of population with failed kidneys.
"This is well below the EU average of 1,100 per million of population with failed kidneys, but as our population is one of the youngest in Europe, this is understandable. However, as the Irish population ages, we can anticipate that we will get closer to the EU average and will require more dialysis facilities if kidney transplantation cannot keep up with the demand, and in its current format it cannot," Mr Murphy explained.
There are currently 460 people on the kidney transplant waiting list.
"While not all dialysis patients are transplantable, it is reasonable to predict that 35% are transplantable. In Ireland your time awaiting a kidney transplant is counted from the day you are placed on the waiting list, not like in many countries which count from the day you start dialysis. If all testing for the waiting list were completed swiftly, that would take the Irish waiting list for kidney transplants up to 700 people," Mr Murphy noted.
He estimated that an additional cost of €50 million per year will be required for dialysis treatment in less than a decade ‘unless kidney transplantation is transformed'.
"A patient with a kidney transplant costs five times less than a dialysis patient and can expect to double if not treble their life expectancy," he said.
Mr Murphy made his comments at the official launch of the IKA's Organ Donor Awareness Week, which runs from April 2-9.
He insisted that ‘the vast majority' of Irish people are willing to donate organs and he thanked the dedicated transplant teams at the country's three transplant hospitals - Beaumont, the Mater and St Vincent's.
Last year, St Vincent's carried out 61 liver transplants, 17 more than the previous year. Meanwhile, the Mater has shown ‘outstanding growth' in the last three years by tripling the number of heart and lung transplants it has carried out when compared with the three years previous.
It also conducted the first combined heart and lung transplant last year.
Overall, 22 more organ transplants took place last year when compared with 2014. Some 233 organ transplant operations took place in 2015 thanks to the generosity of 81 deceased donors and their families. Living kidney donations led to an additional 33 kidney transplants, while eight Irish patients underwent living donor kidney transplants in the UK.
There are currently around 550 people in Ireland waiting for live saving transplants, while some 3,000 people are enjoying extended life as a result of the generosity of others.
This year's Organ Donor Awareness Week is highlighting the importance of talking about this important issue. If you want to be an organ donor, let your loved ones know this and carry an organ donor card. These can easily be obtained by calling the IKA on 1890 543 639 or free texting DONOR to 50050.
It is now also possible to store an e-card on your smart mobile phone. Search for ‘Donor Ecard' at the iPhone store or Android Market Place.
For more information on the this Organ Donor Awareness Week and the IKA, click here