Sunday, 22nd July 2018
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Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has announced a record number of organ donor and transplantation figures for 2017. This is the first year in which the milestone of 300 organ transplants has been reached.

Minister Harris said "I am heartened that 2017 marked our highest annual transplant performance and saw 308 transplants carried out in our hospitals for the first time. I congratulate our transplant teams in Beaumont Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital on their efforts during the year. Their excellent work led to a remarkable increase in the number of transplants from 280 in 2016 to 308 this year."

Professor Jim Egan, Director of Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland said "Our message is simple, organ donation saves lives. Thanks to the generosity of 98 families donating the organs of their loved ones, 308 people have received the gift of life through transplant surgery to date in 2017. The excellent rates of organ donation and transplantation in 2017 reflect the generosity of Irish society. Most importantly, I acknowledge the courage and generosity of families who have donated their loved one’s organs."

The organ transplant figures for 2017 were as follows:

- Beaumont Hospital - 190 kidney transplants

- St Vincent’s university Hospital - 61 liver transplants & 5 pancreas transplants

- Mater Misericordiae University Hospital - 36 lung transplants & 16 heart transplants

The Minister also announced a new high of 149 organ donations. This represents a significant increase on the previous record number of 127 in 2016.

Minister Harris said "Organ donation is the cornerstone on which our transplantation services are built. Without these acts of extreme kindness, we cannot develop our transplantation programmes. Organ donation is among the most selfless gifts we can give another. I can only imagine the relief and joy brought to the over 300 organ recipients and their families and friends as they celebrated Christmas and as they look forward to the New Year with renewed hope and confidence”.

At the same time, the opportunity to give the gift of life to another through the donation of organs comes at the most tragic of times for families. The Minister thanked the 98 families of deceased donors who through their generosity gave a new lease of life to over 300 people. He also acknowledged the commitment of the staff of the National Organ Procurement Service and the Intensive Care personnel across the country, with donor organs being made available through 20 different hospitals during the year.

"I would also like to particularly thank the 51 living kidney donors this year” said the Minister. "This is another record figure (exceeding the 50 in 2016) facilitated by the enthusiastic team in Beaumont Hospital. Making such personal sacrifice and giving the gift of life to another is a truly heroic deed. I hope all living donors and the beneficiaries of their kindness are doing well and looking forward to the year ahead”.

Minister Harris also paid tribute to the successful transfer of the Pancreatic Transplant Programme from Beaumont Hospital to St Vincent’s University Hospital with 5 pancreas transplants carried out during the year. This brings liver and pancreas transplantation together in one hospital.

"Our record organ donation and transplantation performance in 2017 can only be developed further through the donation of organs. I encourage everyone to consider organ donation and to share their intentions in this regard with families and loved ones. My aim is to make organ donation the norm in Ireland when people pass away in circumstances in which donation is a possibility.”

Minister Harris also announced the publication of a Report on the Public Consultation for a Proposed Human Tissue Bill. The report, which was prepared by the Department of Health, outlines the views of members of the public and stakeholders on the proposals for a Human Tissue Bill.

The consultation sought views on proposals to implement the key recommendation of the Madden Report on Post-Mortem Practices and Procedures. The public consultation report shows that the majority of participants either agreed with, or expressed no disagreement with, the proposals on post mortem practice, anatomical examination, education & training of medical professionals, and public display. The report also shows that a large majority of respondents expressed agreement with the proposed opt-out system for organ donation.

Welcoming the findings Minister Harris said, ‘’I am delighted with the level of support for the proposed soft opt-out system for organ donation with 261 completed responses received to the public consultation. Our objective is to increase organ donation and the number of transplants arising as a result. 83% of consultation respondents stated that the proposed opt-out system would encourage them to discuss their intentions regarding organ donation with their next-of-kin. It is important that we all consider our position on organ donation and that we make our views known to our loved ones. In this way we can increase the chances that our organs will be utilised after our death. I now intend to bring the draft heads of the Human Tissue Bill to Government in the first quarter of the new year".

Professor Egan concluded "Organ Donation Transplant Ireland welcomes the news that the public consultation in relation to Soft Opt Out legislation has been endorsed by the contributors. We know that 85% of Irish Society supports organ donation because organ donation saves lives. We look forward to the future where organ donation is seen as an ordinary event rather than an extraordinary event."

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