‘Devastating effect’ of medical card loss on transplant recipients

The Irish Kidney Association has told Health Minister James Reilly that the loss of the discretionary medical card is having a “devastating personal economic effect” on the country’s 3,000 transplanted people.

‘Devastating effect’ of medical card loss   on transplant recipients

Speaking at an event to launch Organ Donor Awareness week, the association’s chief executive Mark Murphy also pointed out to the minister that the future of 1,800 dialysis patients also relies on hi-tech medications for which they use the medical card.

“I urge you, minister, to re-examine this cohort of patients, as I fear for these people if nothing is resolved,” he said. “I am also concerned very few transplanted people will ever return to employment due to the almost automatic loss of their medical cards in the future.”

Later Mr Reilly said he would consider how to support those who were in recovery after having transplants performed. He also said the whole point of transplantation was to give people back a normal life and not have them discouraged from going back to work so he would examine how best to do that.

During yesterday’s launch, the Irish Kidney Association outlined how, despite the same number of deceased donors in 2013 as 10 years earlier, there was a record number of organ transplants carried out last year thanks to medical advancement.

There were 86 deceased organ donors in both 2013 and 2003, but 69 more organs were transplanted last year than a decade before.

A total of 294 organs were transplanted in 2013 through living and deceased organ donation.

As well as the generosity of the families of the 86 deceased donors, Mr Murphy said the increase in transplants last year could also be attributed to the “consistent record-breaking Living Donor programme at Beaumont Hospital, and a new source of deceased donors, cardiac death donors”.

IKA also welcomed the HSE’s investment of €2.9m and its 2014 service plan to manage organ donation nationally which, it said, will include the employment of organ donor co-ordinators. Mr Murphy said that was a major step in elevating organ donation and would encourage the 550 people on transplant waiting lists.

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