Concerns raised after 17% fall in organ donors last year

Father of three Harry English has been called six times for a double lung transplant over the last two years but none were suitable.

With a lung capacity of just 17% and unable to do anything for himself, he is hoping the next organ donation will transform his life.

Mr English, 52, from Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary, suffers from a genetic condition — alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency — and relies on a supply of oxygen because of his reduced lung capacity.

Mr English, who attended the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week in Dublin yesterday, said he started feeling breathless and suffered from a lot of chest infections before being diagnosed.

“I am fine when I am sitting down but really cannot do anything. I would love just to be able to go for a walk and play a bit of golf again.”

More than 3,000 people in Ireland have severe alpha-1 and there are more than 200,000 carriers.

Mr English has not worked for five years and is dependent on his wife Mary Pat and children to look after his basic needs.

He was diagnosed with the condition more than 10 years ago and his health has been deteriorating gradually ever since.

Figures revealed there were 78 deceased donors last year, a 17% fall from a record of 93.

The 206 organs included 131 kidneys, 50 livers, 14 lungs, 10 hearts and a pancreas, alongside 32 living donor kidney transplant.

Irish Kidney Association chief executive Mark Murphy raised concerns over the drop in numbers and urged people to get a donor card. He warned, however, that relatives could veto any donation regardless of a person’s intention before death.

“The willingness of the Irish public to donate is not the problem when it comes to organ donation.

“It is the lack of infrastructure, an organ registry, and the employment of fully trained organ donor coordinators in all our hospitals,” he said.

Health Minister James Reilly, who attended the launch in the Mansion House, said the specific organ donor code — 115 — had been included on more than a third of the new plastic card driving licences since it was launched in January.


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