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Lung transplant patients who had to go to the UK can now stay in Ireland

More than 100 Irish patients had received transplants at a Newcastle Hospital but patients will now be able to get the procedures in Ireland.

An atrial cuff into a set of human lungs to check their suitability for transplant.
An atrial cuff into a set of human lungs to check their suitability for transplant.
Image: AP Photo/Allen G. Breed

ALL ADULT IRISH lung transplants will now be carried out on Irish soil after the Mater Hospital has built up enough expertise to carry out more difficult procedures.

Over the last 15 years, although most transplants were carried out at the Mater Hospital, more than Irish 100 patients have received a lung and heart-lung transplant at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

The contract to perform these transplants ceased last week but the Freeman Hospital will continue to offer lung transplants to Irish children, the majority of whom require transplants as they suffer from cystic fibrosis.

The Freeman transplant team say that they have worked in partnership with the Mater hospital and “now the Irish National Lung Transplant Program is developed and ready to take over the full adult service”.

The repatriation of the adult transplants is expected to be of particular benefit to adult cystic fibrosis patients who may be too frail to travel.

Many cystic fibrosis patients require more difficult transplants due to a naturally smaller frame.

Director of the National Centre for Cardiothoracic Surgery Jim McCarthy says that his team have demonstrated their ability to provide care for even the most critically ill and complex patients:

We will, in the next year, be celebrating ten years of performing lung transplants in Ireland. We have a very skilled and extremely busy surgical team undertaking complex cases. Part of the strength of the unit is the spectrum of surgery that is carried out.

Last year there were 32 lung transplants carried out at the Mater Hospital, nine of these were double lung transplants for cystic fibrosis patients. The transplant unit is set to move to new facility at the Mater Hospital.

Philip Watt CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland has said that they hope for an increase in this number in 2014 and also thanked the staff in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle for the work they did in saving the lives of Irish patients.

Most recently in the Freeman Hospital, the first successful bilateral upper lobe transplant in Europe was performed in a 13-year-old Irish boy, who was dying with cystic fibrosis.

Read: Negotiations underway over new CF drug deemed ‘too expensive’ >

Read: Updating your friends – while in a coma >

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Rónán Duffy

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