By Staff Reporter
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar was on hand at Dublin’s Mansion House recently to officially launch the Irish Kidney Association’s Organ Donor Awareness Week 2016, which runs from 2-9 April.
The minister met members of the organ donation and transplant community including medical staff, patients and patient advocate groups such as the Irish Kidney Association (IKA), which says there is an urgent need for an additional hospital to meet the spiralling demand for kidney transplants and combat massive future strain on the exchequer.
“The vast majority of the Irish public is willing to donate organs and we now have the infrastructure to lift organ donation to the next level, like the Spanish model of organ donation whose rates are twice ours,” said the IKA’s Mark Murphy at the launch.
Ireland currently has three transplanting hospitals in Beaumont, St Vincent’s and the Mater, all in Dublin, and all of which have shown growth in their transplant numbers.
“However, there is an urgent need to address our kidney transplant infrastructure for living and deceased donation which cannot keep up with the demand,” warns Murphy, who adds that the 460 people on the kidney transplant waiting lists represents only 23 per cent of all dialysis patients, some 50 per cent below viable estimates.
Organ Donor Awareness Week from Saturday 2 April is organised by the IKA with the support of RTÉ news anchor Vivienne Traynor, who features in posters and radio advertising encouraging the public to support organ donation.
Traynor witnessed first-hand the process of organ donation and transplantation from a deceased donor for her nephew Martin in November 2014, noting that it was a very different experience from five years previously when she was a living kidney donor to him.
“I was touched that a family in the midst of all their grief took the time to consider someone else,” she said. “The kindness of strangers meant so much to us.”
The focus of Organ Donor Awareness Week is to raise awareness about the ongoing demand for organ transplantation, which relies on the public for organ donation.
Its key message is that families need to talk and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the Gift of Life organ donor card, downloading the smartphone app and permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.
The week will also see fundraising activities for the IKA, as almost three-quarters of its funds are generated from the public. IKA volunteers will be out on the streets and in shopping centres throughout the country selling ‘forget-me-not flower’ emblems, brooches, pens and shopping trolley discs. Donations of €3 can also be made by texting ‘kidney’ to 50300.
Organ donor cards and related information are available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries and Citizen Information offices, as well as from the IKA at LoCall 1890 543 639 or Freetext DONOR to 50050.
Organ donor cards are also now available for smartphones - search ‘Donor eCard’ in the iOS App Store or Google Play for Android.