The number of organ donations and transplantations in Ireland would increase significantly if the Government were to set up an organ donation registry, it has been claimed.
The Irish Kidney Association (IKA) said such a registry, already in place in other countries including the UK, would involve people voluntarily identifying themselves on a database as either "wanting" or "not wanting" to donate their organs when they die.
Last year, the organs of 93 deceased people here were used for transplantation, but the Association said this figure could increase if a proper database were put in place.
“It’s very easy to do,” said IKA CEO Mark Murphy, who said such a registry could be set up reasonably cheaply if government departments were prepared to share information.
“It’s quite a big task, I’m not denying that,” Mr Murphy added.
“But it’s very manageable, very powerful (and) very useful.”
Mr Murphy was speaking at the start of the IKA’s Organ Donor Awareness Week, which runs from today until April 7.
The focus of the week is to raise awareness about the demand for organ donation and transplantation and to seek support from the public to make an informed decision to carry an organ donor card.
During the week, volunteers will be out on the streets and in shopping centres throughout the country selling ‘forget me not flower’ emblems (the symbol of transplantation), brooches, magnetic car ribbons and pens.
Proceeds will go to the Irish Kidney Association’s support programme for patients on dialysis and those patients fortunate enough to have a kidney transplant.
The IKA is the organisation charged with the promotion and distribution of the organ donor card in Ireland on behalf of all patient groups with an interest in organ donation that form the Irish Donor Network.
There are currently over 650 people in Ireland awaiting life saving organ transplants including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas.