ORGAN Donor Awareness Week takes place this year from April 2 to 9. The awareness campaign, organised by the Irish Kidney Association and supported by the Irish Donor Network, highlights the ongoing importance of organ donation, and the critical need by many people for this life saving service.
Organ failure and vulnerability is all too common, and most people will know someone who has experienced, or is undergoing, these conditions. In most cases, their only recourse, or chance of survival, is through a life saving transplant.
The Irish Kidney Association points out that thanks to the generosity of deceased donors and their families consent to donate their organs, almost 2,400 people are enjoying extended life as a result of receiving organ transplants. Furthermore, they estimate that there are currently over 650 people in Ireland awaiting life saving organ transplants including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas. Organ Donor Awareness Week focuses on raising awareness about the ongoing and ever increasing demand for organ donation and transplantation. In raising awareness, it seeks support from the public to make an informed decision to carry an organ donor card.
The country is hardly in rude good health. Underlining the acute nature of the problem, the IKA National Treasurer told the Leinster Express this week that the kidney dialysis unit in Tullamore is almost full to capacity. Martin Doody, who also chairs Laois IKA, predicts that the number of patients using the facility will continue to grow. Currently 95 people use the facility on average three times a week for their four hour sessions. Another 15 patients from Laois and Offaly still have to endure the long journey to Dublin for their treatment.
In Ireland last year, about 100 kidney transplants were performed from deceased donors. Another 20 came from living donors, an area that is predicted to grow due to a programme introduced at Beaumont Hospital.
The likelihood is that this number will continue indefinetly, due to a number of factors, not least of which is the huge and continued increase in diabetes, which will test the capacity of the health servies over the coming years.
The IKA is urging people to carry donor cards, and to discuss this with their next of kin. The benefits of doing so are evident for everyone to see. Organ Donor Awareness Week deserves the public’s full support. Ultimately, it is members of the public who benefit.