Belfast Telegraph

Grieving families donate organs

The grieving families of 23 people who died have donated 64 organs to desperately ill patients so far this year.

The Irish Kidney Association (IKA) revealed medics were on track to carry out a record number of transplants after the amount of organs donated plummeted to 151 last year, down from 243 in 2009.

More than 650 patients are waiting for a life-saving heart, lung, kidney or pancreas.

Mark Murphy, IKA chief executive, said the recent establishment of an organ and transplant office would pave the way for improvements in the field but warned it needed adequate funding to reach its full potential.

"Our first priority is for the provision of fully trained organ donor co-ordinators in all our intensive care units offering vital support to those physicians and nurses working in this very important, highly sensitive and emotionally charged area," said Mr Murphy.

Marking Organ Donor Awareness Week, which starts on Saturday, the charity revealed the number of deceased donors fell dramatically to 58 last year - compared to 90 in 2009 - while the number of living kidney donors rose to 23.

It also launched a free e-card app for smartphone users to store a donor card.

Health Minister James Reilly confirmed the new Government's plan for an opt-out system for organ transplantation, instead of the opt-in system, was under consultation.

He maintained it would be in place to facilitate the conversation about organ donation between distraught next-of-kin and specially trained transplant co-ordinators in hospitals.

"The express permission of the family is crucial," said Dr Reilly.

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