Last year 90 families, who were forced to say a final farewell to their loved ones, made the ultimate act of extraordinary compassion by agreeing to organ donation. These 90 grieving families' decisions saved the lives of 243 people in 2009.
Spread around the country there are now 172 people with new kidneys, who no longer have their lives on hold because of their dependence on dialysis. They are currently busy planning holidays, returning to work or study, maybe even running after grandchildren: activities which would have been unthinkable for them in 2008. There are a further 64 people who received the gift of a new liver; 11 were given new hearts and 5 more are breathing easily for the first time with new lungs; 8 others have thrown away their insulin supplies because of the magical arrival of a new pancreas.
Our friends in the amazing transplant team Beaumont hospital, with a level of productivity possibly unique in the Irish healthcare system, have raised their number of kidney transplants from 146 in 2008 to a new annual record of 176 in 2009. The HSE in its wisdom, has penalised this success by not increasing the budget to meet consequent strain on existing resources. As a result, the team were forced to export two donated kidneys and a pancreas to the UK transplant system because there were no available beds for the prospective recipients in Beaumont.
To quote the late Frank Deasy: Organ donation contains a possibility almost unique in modern life. We, the general public, can make a difference. It's not like the economy, the climate or Afghanistan. ...Your consent is the missing element in the equation of saving lives. That's pretty extraordinary.
Just in case you need further encouragement; this is what a successful kidney transplant looks like: