The Power family from Bansha with broadcaster Claire Byrne at the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2018.
Tipperary people joined a large gathering involved in organ donation and transplantation at the official launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2018 in Dublin on Tuesday.
The annual life-saving awareness campaign is organised by the Irish Kidney Association and supported by Organ Donation Transplantation Ireland (ODTI), and takes places from 31st March until 7th April. The campaign was officially launched by Minister of State for Health Promotion and National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne TD, who has a personal interest in organ donation.
Special guest at the launch was broadcaster Claire Byrne, who has taken up the voluntary role of ambassador for Organ Donor Awareness 2018. She will feature on posters distributed nationwide and on a national radio advertising campaign encouraging families to discuss organ donation.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Irish Kidney Association and of the kidney donor card which has evolved over the years into the organ donor card. It is the 60th anniversary since the first dialysis treatment in Ireland in May 1958 and the 55th anniversary of the first transplant - a kidney transplant - which took place at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital on St. Stephen’s Green on a 21-year-old Dublin man named Ted Tobin.
2017 was a record year for organ transplantation for Ireland with a total of 327 organs being transplanted into 321 patients including a total of 23 children/paediatric transplants.
It is thanks to the gift of organ donation that almost 3,500 transplanted people in Ireland are enjoying extended life. At the end of 2017, there were 524 people active on the various transplant waiting pools for heart, liver, kidney, lung and pancreas.
In 2017, Beaumont Hospital carried out a total of 192 kidney transplants comprising of 141 from deceased donors and a record 51 from living donors.
The Mater Misericordiae Hospital carried out 16 heart transplants and 36 lung transplants in 2017. The 36 lung transplants matched its record figure from two years previous.
St. Vincent’s University Hospital carried out 62 liver transplants and five pancreas transplants combined with kidney transplants in 2017.
The key message of Organ Donor Awareness Week is that families need to talk to each other about organ donation and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the organ donor card and permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.
Organ Donor Awareness Week also serves as a fundraising exercise for the Irish Kidney Association. Throughout the week, the association’s volunteers will be out on the streets and in shopping centres throughout the country, distributing organ donor cards while selling 'forget-me-not-flower' emblems, brooches, lapel pins, pens and shopping trolley discs. All proceeds will go towards the Irish Kidney Association’s aid for patients on dialysis and those patients fortunate enough to have received a kidney transplant.
The Irish Kidney Association’s charitable activities include the provision of a 13-double bedroom, free accommodation facility for patients and their families on the grounds of Beaumont Hospital and holiday centres located in Tramore and Kerry. Other services include patient advocacy, advice, counselling, financial aid, health promotion through sport, and the provision of kidney patient information and education through its head office in Dublin and its 25 branch network of volunteers throughout the country.
Free information fact files, which accompany organ donor cards, are obtainable from the Irish Kidney Association and are available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries and Citizen Information offices.
Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or free text the word DONOR to 50050.