There are still 500 people waiting for replacement organs, despite 2017 being a record year of transplants for Irish patients, when 327 organs were transplanted last year into 321 patients.
Organ Donor Awareness Week is celebrating 40 years since the first donor cards were issued in Ireland.
In Ireland, 3,500 transplant recipients are enjoying an extended life, but the Irish Kidney Association is urging families to talk to each other about donation.
Those willing to donate are being urged to carry organ donor cards and to allow Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licences, so as to promote the message.
A week of fundraising and awareness events runs from next Saturday, with proceeds from sales of forget-me-not flower emblems, brooches, lapel pins, pens, and shopping trolley discs going towards the Irish Kidney Association’s work with patients on dialysis.
It also supports those who have received a kidney transplant and is celebrating a significant breakthrough.
“For the first time in 39 years, transplantation is keeping up with dialysis,” said Irish Kidney Association chief executive Mark Murphy. “With 2,074 people on dialysis, this is one less person on dialysis than in the previous year, 2016.”
At the launch, yesterday, of Organ Donor Awareness Week, he said there were 524 people active on transplant waiting lists for the heart, liver, kidney, lung, and pancreas. Among the recipients last year were 23 children/paediatric transplant patients.
Mr Murphy thanked the families of the 99 deceased donors in Ireland last year, whose selflessness and profound generosity resulted in 260 transplants. These were 141 kidney, 62 liver, 36 lung, 16 heart, and five pancreas transplants.
A record 51 living donor kidney transplants were among 192 kidney transplants carried out by Beaumont Hospital, in Dublin.
Of the record 311 transplants in Ireland in 2017, 16 heart and 36 lung transplants took place at Dublin’s Mater Hospital.
St Vincent’s University Hospital carried out 62 liver transplants and five pancreas transplants, combined with kidney transplants.
The Health Service Executive funded 16 transplants for 15 Irish patients in the UK last year, including 11 paediatric organ transplants and three kidney swaps.
Cork woman Isabel Terry was at the launch in Dublin’s Mansion House, six months after her 15-year wait on the transplant list finally came to an end, when she underwent a combined heart and double lung transplant in Newcastle.
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