Belfast Telegraph

Why a Dublin doctor had to travel to Northern Ireland to donate his kidney to stranger

Generosity: Dr Dominick Natin
Generosity: Dr Dominick Natin

By Eilish O'Regan

A Dublin doctor was forced to travel to Northern Ireland to donate a kidney to help a sick stranger.

Dr Dominick Natin, an occupational physician in the Mater Hospital, Dublin, is one of a handful of altruistic donors who have given a kidney to someone they do not know.

No such programme exists in the Republic, which confines donation of kidneys from people who have died or from living donors of relatives or friends.

Dr Natin said that "from an early age" he wanted to help others and he is also a regular blood donor having been inspired by his childhood GP.

Another three to five transplants could be carried out in the Republic annually if altruistic donation was allowed, the Medical Independent reported.

But people who express an interest to doctors at Beaumont Hospital, where kidney transplants are carried out, have to be directed to Northern Ireland.

Dr Natin said he read about giving the kidney in advance of having the operation, and he underwent a thorough assessment.

He was told his kidney was a perfect match for another patient who was on the waiting list for a transplant.

Late last year he finished work at 6pm, took the train to Belfast and had his kidney removed the following day.

He said: "I woke up that evening feeling absolutely fine.

"I was told the good news that the recipient had got the kidney, it was working well and the medical teams were very happy".

Dr Natin was fit for discharge less than 24 hours later but he stayed on another day on the advice of his wife.

The recipient of his kidney asked to meet him before he left hospital.

He described the patient as "very lovely and gracious" and they have since written to him to say how their life has been transformed.

Dr Natin was back at work in four weeks and did not accept vouched expenses which he was entitled to under the NHS programme.

He believes there is a need to educate people, including healthcare staff, about the fact that it is a relatively safe operation.

It will be necessary for the Irish Government to bring in long-delayed legislation covering human tissue before altruistic donation is allowed in the Republic.

Last year there were 40 donations of living kidneys by relatives and friends in the Republic.

Some 2,124 patients received kidney dialysis treatment last year, an increase of 50 compared to 2017.

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