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Organ donation fell 17 per cent last year - IKA

The Chief Executive of the IKA said no other European country experienced Ireland’s “wide swings” in donor activity – and that Ireland required infrastructure and funding to stabilise donation behaviour.

Image: spinetta via Shutterstock

IRISH ORGAN DONATION figures fell last year to below average, the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) has revealed.

Speaking at the national launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week, Chief Executive of the IKA Mark Murphy said that 2010 was almost a record low for organ donation, 2011 was a record high and 2012, at 17 per cent less than the previous year, was below average.

“I don’t know of another European country, even of a similar size population, with such wide swings in deceased donor activity,” Murphy said. “Unless the required infrastructure and funding is implemented in the Republic, the Organ Donor Consent issue is irrelevant at this time as there is much more to do here before such deliberations take place.”

Murphy said that the willingness of the Irish public to donate was “not the problem” when it comes to organ donation but, instead, it is the lack of the required infrastructure, an organ donor registry and the employment of fully trained organ donor coordinators in the country’s hospitals. “This is proven by the top 10 European donating countries that have identified and invested in infrastructure to achieve 30 donors per million of population (pmp) successfully and affordably,” he said.

He said the public should understand the proposed change in the name of the consent system from ‘informed consent’ (opt in) to ‘presumed consent’ (opt out). “Nowhere in Europe does ‘presumed consent’ actually take place in practice. Regardless of legislation, they all have come to realise it is not a practical system. The relatives are always consulted and can veto any organ donation process,” he said.

The IKA welcomed the calling by the National Organ Procurement Service for an audit of activity on potential organ donors in hospitals which would aim to identify potential improvements and address annual ‘unpredictability’.

Breakdown

2012 was almost an average year for deceased organ donors at 78, down from the record set the previous year at 93, but only two donors off the 5 year average of 80 per year, according to IKA figures. The Association thanked the 78 deceased donors and their families for their generosity, noting that 206 transplant operations took place in Ireland in 2012.

Three of the deceased donors were non heart-beating donors/cardiac death donors, following from the first one the year before.

The IKA says the 131 deceased donor kidney transplants were complimented by a further 32 living donor kidney transplants, while a further three Irish patients received specialist living donor transplants in the UK. The annual total of 166 kidney transplants was above the five year average, which the Association said was due to the increase in living donors. “Replacing deceased donation by living donation is a concern. Living donation needs to remain complimentary to deceased donation – not its replacement,” Murphy noted.

Some 50 livers were transplanted, which was slightly less than the five year average of 54.2. Heart transplantation was well above average with 10 transplants being performed in 2012, up from 6 in 2011.

Lung transplantation showed the greatest increase in the year with a record of 14 transplants for 2012, the IKA said. (10 single and four double lungs transplanted). This was 75 per cent more than the eight transplanted in 2011 and double the five year average of seven, while a further six lung transplants were conducted in the UK on behalf of Irish patients. Twenty Irish patients in total creceived transplanted lungs last year.

Currently, 1,828 people in Ireland receive dialysis treatment. In 2012 the number of patients with End Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD) grew by 45 or just over 1 per cent in the year.

Organ Donor Awareness Week takes place from 30 March – 6 April, 2013

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