190 organ transplants carried out in 2020

Almost 600 currently waiting for a transplant
  • Deborah Condon

Despite the difficulties faced by the health service in 2020 as a result of COVID-19, 190 organ transplants were performed during the year.

A total of 90 donors - 62 deceased and 28 living - donated their organs, including 123 kidneys, 37 livers and nine hearts.

According to Dr Catherine Motherway, the HSE's clinical lead for organ donation, 2020 was a "challenging and difficult year" for all health services.

"We will continue to champion organ donation because it saves lives and our achievements this year reflect the generosity of our families and patients, and the professionalism of the intensive care, theatre, medical and nursing staff.

"I wish to sincerely thank the families of deceased donors. They at a time of tragedy and grief through the sudden death of a loved one have given the gift of life to another person, often a stranger, and transformed the lives of many families. Their selfless act of generosity is always inspirational and humbling," she commented.

Janet O' Brien's son, Luke O Reilly (20), died tragically in 2017 following an attack on Halloween night. Luke's organs were donated and Janet said that he now lives on through organ donation.

"I instinctively knew donation was what Luke would have wanted and I find solace in knowing my son has helped others," she said.

Karen Kelly is mum to Josh (8). Last year, he was placed on dialysis while he waited for a kidney transplant. Following a thorough testing regime in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital, Karen was confirmed as a suitable kidney donor for Josh. Her kidney surgery took place in Beaumont Hospital in October and on the same day, Josh received his new kidney in Temple Street Children's Hospital.

"For me, the hardest part was not being able to be with Josh during his surgery in Temple Street as I recovered in Beaumont Hospital. Josh is now a happy and healthy eight-year-old and I am very proud to be an organ donor.

"I really want to reach out and support anyone who may find themselves in similar circumstances and let everyone know how important organ donation is in saving and improving lives," she said.

The 2020 transplant figures were welcomed by the Irish Kidney Association (IKA), which paid tribute to all those involved in organ donation.

"Despite all that has been going on with the pandemic, we must acknowledge the dedication of the teams in Beaumont, the Mater, St. Vincent's and Temple Street hospitals in ensuring the continuation of the transplant programmes. It has been very inspiring to hear feedback from transplant recipients throughout the year about the level of care and professionalism they experienced," commented IKA chief executive, Carol Moore.

Around 590 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant in Ireland, while over 2,000 people are receiving kidney dialysis treatment.

Ms Moore pointed that that the pandemic has seen an increase in the demand for dialysis as COVID-19 can impact the functioning of the kidneys, with one in three people who end up in ICU experiencing kidney failure and requiring dialysis treatment.

"With people on dialysis and transplant recipients in the 'extremely high-risk' category in relation to COVID-19, the IKA has been advocating for the prioritisation of renal patients in the vaccine rollout. At present, adult transplant and dialysis patients are prioritised in 7th position, while under-18s, many of whom are at school going age, are in 15th position for the vaccine rollout in Ireland.

"The IKA has added its voice to that of the National Renal Office in calling for the re-prioritisation of this cohort in relation to the rollout of the vaccine programme," she noted.

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the IKA on (01) 620 5306 or texting the word DONOR to 50050. Alternatively, you can apply here or download a free digital organ donor card app to your phone here.


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