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New legislation which will include provision for an “opt-out” system for organ donation due to be published early this year
A total of 15 lifesaving heart transplants took place in 2019 just three less than the previous year, while 2019 was a record year for lung transplants at 38.
The latest figures which were released recently by the Department of Health, revealed that a total of 274 organ transplants were performed in Ireland in 2019 and of these, there were 153 kidney, 66 liver, 15 heart, 38 lung and 2 pancreas transplants.
A total of 110 people or their loved ones made the selfless decision to donate organs last year of these, 85 were deceased and 25 were living donors.
Organ transplantation takes place in three national transplant centres in Dublin.
Beaumont hospital provides kidney transplantation and is also the national centre for living kidney organ donation. The Mater University Hospital provides heart and lung transplantation. St Vincent’s University hospital provides liver and pancreas transplantation.
“ We are pleased to see the rate of organ donation and transplant in 2019 remain in line with last year ,"
Making the announcement just before the new year, the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said, “Organ donation is among the most selfless gifts we can give one another. I sincerely thank the families of deceased donors who at a time of great tragedy, found the strength to offer a new lease of life to many people.
“I can only imagine how difficult those decisions can be, but I hope they can take some solace in the relief and joy brought to the organ recipients and their families and friends. This year marked our highest annual transplant performance for lung transplants.”
Professor Jim Egan, Director of Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland said, “This year, we have been extremely grateful for the willingness of recipient and donor families to share their experiences of donation and transplant in order to encourage others to consider such an enormous gift.
“We are pleased to see the rate of organ donation and transplant in 2019 remain in line with last year. Organ donation continues to be a rare event; of 31,000 deaths each year in Ireland, we see an average of 80 multi organ donations per annum. This continues to reflect positively on the generosity of Irish society and the professionalism of the intensive care, surgical teams, medical and nursing staff who look after patients and their families.’’
Minister Harris also confirmed that he intends to bring the Human Tissue Bill to Cabinet in early 2020. The Bill, which was published earlier this year, has undergone pre-legislative scrutiny and the Minister is awaiting a report of the outcome.
This new Bill will include a provision for an “opt-out” system for organ donation for the first time in Ireland. Under this system, it will be presumed that adults have given consent for their organs to be donated after death unless while alive, they have registered their wish not to be an organ donor on the opt-out register.
“ This legislation will provide for a soft opt-out system. I would encourage people to have those conversations with their loved ones ,"
Minister Harris said, “This is a very important piece of legislation and it remains a priority for me. I await the Oireachtas committee’s report, but it remains my intention to publish the Bill, by the end of Quarter 1 2020. I also want to confirm an additional funding of €0.5m in 2020 to develop our National Organ Retrieval Service with a view to enhancing our current organ donation infrastructure to be comparable with best international standards.”
Minister Harris added, “This legislation will provide for a soft opt-out system. I would encourage people to have those conversations with their loved ones. Organ donation can be the gift of life for some people and I really hope families across the country can have these difficult conversations and help us to do everything we can to increase organ donation and save lives.”
The Irish Heart Foundation is very much in favour of the introduction of an opt-out system for organ donation in Ireland and is of the view that it will save lives.
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