HealthDoctor Karen

Boost for organ awareness plan

Doctor KarenBy Dr. Karen Palmer
Boost for organ awareness plan

It’s good news for the Organ Donor Awareness Campaign as Mary Kennedy is continuing her voluntary role of ambassador for the annual Organ Donor Awareness Campaign Speaking about her ambassador role, Mary says: “It is a great honour to be asked by the Irish Kidney Association once again this year to help create awareness for the struggle of people with organ failure, and to encourage conversations by the public amongst their families to consider organ donation in the event of untimely death.

“I think that most people have been touched by organ donation in some way. I have seen it from both sides. My late uncle, Tom White, was on dialysis for many years with kidney failure.

“I am deeply aware that the heartache experienced by my dear friends, Martina and Denis Goggin, when their only son, Éamonn, who tragically died in 2006, was tempered with the great consolation that the lives of four people were saved through honouring their son’s wish that his organs be donated.

“Following Éamonn’s death, their brainchild for a Circle of Life garden in Salthill in Galway  was realised. The Garden, which was officially opened last year by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, is a sanctuary for organ donor families - and a reminder of the great gift of life that is organ donation.”

Mary also attended the campaign’s national launch by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar T.D, at the Mansion House.

This year marks the 30th anniversary in Ireland of heart transplantation, which is carried out at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, and the hospital also celebrates the 10th anniversary of lung transplantation this year.

There are more than 700 people in Ireland awaiting life-saving heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. Thanks to the gift of organ donation, more than 3000 people in Ireland are enjoying extended life.

There was a sharp decline in the number of deceased donors in 2014 from its previous year - 63 as compared with 86 in 2013. In total, 251 people received organ transplants in 2014, compared with 294 in 2013.

The Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association, Mark Murphy, said when these figures were announced at the beginning of this year that: “The Organ Procurement Service’s transition period, which we are now in the middle of, gives us hope in future years that the organ donor rates for Ireland will be far better than they are now.

The commencement of an audit of organ donor activity inside the country’s intensive care facilities is essential.”

Despite 2014’s mediocre performance in liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation, the Mater Hospital enjoyed an exceptional year for heart transplantation with 18 heart transplants taking place, its highest in a decade - and the Mater hospital almost matched its previous year’s record for lung transplantation with 31 lung transplants taking place, just one less than in 2013.

Also, 44 liver transplants were carried out at St. Vincent’s University Hospital last year, 20 per cent less than in 2013. In 2014, 152 people received kidney transplants at Beaumont Hospital, of which 40 were from living donors and 112 from deceased donors.

The focus of Organ Donor Awareness Week is to raise awareness about the ongoing and ever-increasing demand for transplantation, which relies on the public for organ donation.

Families need to talk together and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the organ donor card.