Monday, 4 April 2011

Organ Donor Awareness Week 2nd - 9th April 2011

It's that time of year again when the donor community fight to bring the issue of organ donation to the top of the busy news and media agenda. You may even have read some very moving personal stories in the Sunday newspapers yesterday. It's an ongoing battle, which although meets with very little resistance, still feels like rolling that boulder up that hill. 2010 was one of the worst years on record for organ donation: there were only 58 deceased organ donors, a 35% drop on 2009 donor levels. 1989 was the first time Ireland broke the 100 kidney transplants in a single year, which considering there were only 178 people on dialysis back then, must have had a huge impact lives of those on the transplant list. Over twenty years later in 2010, there were 1,780 people on dialysis; the 58 deceased organ donations falls far short of this new demand.

There are many reasons for this anomaly, one very obvious cause is the laudable decrease in deaths due to road traffic accidents. Other causes are less tangible - but a recent survey of the rate of donations per hospital around the country seems to indicate a lack of trained staff to broach the subject with grieving next of kin. The new programme for government includes a commitment to the introduction of an opt-out system of organ donation. This system operates on the presumption of consent: everyone is an organ donor unless they have expressly opted out. A controversial system, which is not universally welcomed by the donor community. Many feel the generosity involved in giving permission for organ donation is too enormous for others to merely presume it will be granted. Mark Murphy of the Irish Kidney Association has favoured a required request system such as exists in the US: medical staff are required by law to request permission for organ donation where appropriate. Under this system, the family can still refuse if they believe it was not the express wish of their loved one. Whatever the outcome, the debate is to be welcomed; 1,780 of our friends, family and neighbours have had their lives placed on hold due to chronic kidney failure, we owe it to them to radically increase our incidence of organ donation.

There are two new links on this blog which will give you an insight into life on dialysis and the light donation provides in the vast black hole left by the death of a loved one.

In the meantime you have the power to do something that could save a life: text the word donor to 50050 to receive your donor card or for those of you with posh mobile phones there is an e card available for both android and iPhone through the App Store.