Dialysis unit now at capacity

TULLAMORE Hospital’s state-of-the-art dialysis unit which opened less than three years ago is now at full capacity and from 2012 will not be able to cope with all the patients likely to need the life-saving service.

TULLAMORE Hospital’s state-of-the-art dialysis unit which opened less than three years ago is now at full capacity and from 2012 will not be able to cope with all the patients likely to need the life-saving service.

This was the startling news from consultant nephrologist Dr Eoin Bergin last Thursday night at the official launch of National Organ Donor Awareness Week.

Dr Bergin added that the Tullamore Dialysis Unit was the fastest growing unit in the country. “It now has a capacity to treat 102 patients per week and at present is treating 92 and will reach full capacity by next year,” he warned.

When the dialysis service commenced in 2005 it was treating 20 patients a week. Even now not all patients requiring dialysis get local treatment with 15 people travelling to other centres weekly for treatment. “Year on year there has been an increase of ten patients every year,” added Dr Bergin.

Jerome Burke, Chairman of the Offaly branch of the Irish Kidney Association, co-ordinators of Organ Donor Awareness week, welcomed members of staff at the Dialysis Unit, patients and their families, transplant patients and members of Tullamore, Edenderry and Birr Town Councils and Offaly County Council. He pointed out how important organ donor awareness was in view of the increased demand for transplant organs. He urged members of the public to consider the plight of very ill people relying on dialysis to stay alive.

“Please, please carry an organ donor card and discuss with your family.” The number of organ donations decreased in 2010 to the lowest level for years. Thankfully matters seem to be improving and so far this year 40 transplants have been performed.

Among the interesting statistics revealed by Jerome were the fact that 1709 patients are recieving dialysis in Ireland today. There were 98 Deceased Donor Kidney Transplants at Beaumont Hospital during 2010; 8 Pancreases were transplanted along with a Kidney in 2010; 23 people donated organs to family members; 38 liver Transplants performed and three heart transplants and four lung transplants were performed at the Mater Hospital.

Jerome himself had a double transplant in November 1999 when he received the gift of a kidney and pancreas. “I consider it the most wonderful gift. I continue to live life to the full and every day I offer thanks to my donor and his family. They bestowed new life on me.”

However, Jerome said he was acutely aware of the grief of donor families and their generosity at such a difficult time. Hence the need for people who wished to become donors to discuss the issue with their families when filling in a donor card. “If you have discussed organ donation with your family it will make the whole process somewhat less painful. We are so thankful to donor families.”

Organ Donor Awareness Week continues until next Saturday with information desks at locations such as the Bridge Centre, Tullamore.