5,000 apply for organ donor cards after appeal by TV scriptwriter

MORE THAN 5,000 people have applied to carry organ cards after Liveline presenter Joe Duffy highlighted the plight of people needing a life-saving transplant this week.

On Monday, award-winning Irish TV scriptwriter Frank Deasy told Mr Duffy that his need for an organ donor had become “very urgent”. The writer, who penned Prime Suspect and The Passion, as well as the recent RTÉ series, Father and Son, has cancer of the liver.

Mr Deasy, who lives in Scotland with his wife, Marie and three children, is waiting for the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh to tell him that a suitable donor has been found.

“I am only one of thousands of patients on organ transplant lists in Britain, living on our own, invisible, death row,” he said.

Mr Duffy also listened to people who have received a transplant or desperately need one.

And he repeatedly urged listeners to join the Liveline Organ Donation Campaign by free-texting the word donor to 50050.

Chief executive of the Irish Kidney Association, Mark Murphy, said Joe Duffy did not express an opinion while highlighting the issue during the past three days, preferring to let the people who called speak for themselves.

“It worked very well because we are just inundated with calls for donor cards to a point where we have never been before,” he said yesterday. “It is the power of Joe Duffy and it is wonderful.”

There are more than 600 people waiting for organ transplants in Ireland. Around 500 need a kidney transplant and the remainder are awaiting a heart, lung or liver transplant. Once people become too ill for a transplant, they were “de-listed”.

About 1,000 people signed up to the donor programme in 2007 after The Late Late Show highlighted the issue.

Mr Murphy pointed out that around 2,000 requests for organ donor cards were made after Mr Deasy’s interview on Monday and a further 3,500 were received after Tuesday’s Liveline programme.

Yesterday’s response has yet to be assessed.

“We have never had such a level of requests at any one time. Joe Duffy is claiming it is a record. It certainly is.”

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