Mater ready to perform Ireland’s first lung transplant operation

IRELAND is ready to perform the first lung transplant operation here this summer.

The Heart/Lung Unit at the Mater Hospital in Dublin expects to perform the procedure in the coming months and hopes to complete a further two before the end of the year.

The hospital will conduct two to three transplants per year until the theatre facilities planned in phase three are completed.

Fifteen Irish people are waiting for a lung transplant. They desperately need the procedure to survive.

Around 25 people are on a provisional waiting list for a lung transplant and are being assessed.

The Department of Health and Children identified Ireland’s requirement for a specialised lung transplantation programme in the National Cardiovascular Strategy in 1998 and the Mater was chosen to develop the national unit.

Up to now, Irish patients were travelling to England for lung transplants.

Freeman Hospital in Newcastle has facilitated 42 lung transplant operations on Irish patients since 1999 and provide both pre and post assessment up until 2003.

Since last May the Mater has been providing pre and post assessment for Irish patients. Fifty lung transplant recipients are attending the hospital.

Dr Jim Egan, lead transplant physician at the Mater, said they were aiming to complete 15 to 20 lung transplants every year.

Dr Egan said he had no specific completion date for the third phase of the unit’s development that includes a new theatre.

“We have been so successful with the implementation of the first two phases that I would be optimistic we will hit the target we have set ourselves,” he said.

Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland (CFAI) chairperson, Carl Rainey, welcomed the new unit but pointed out the number of transplants would be limited until the third phase was completed.

Last year, nine cystic fibrosis (CF) sufferers who are members of the association, travelled to England to receive a lung transplant.

“We reckon that there is probably a demand for at least 15 lung transplants a year for CF patients,” said Mr Rainey.

Dr Egan pointed out that there would always be a waiting list for lung transplants.

“You could be looking at a waiting list of 25 people but if the donors are available as many as possible will be accommodated,” he stressed.

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