STATEMENT BY THE IRISH KIDNEY ASSOCIATION IN RELATION TO THE BEQUEST OF OVER €6 MILLION BY THE LATE MRS. ELIZABETH O’KELLY
The Board of the Irish Kidney Association would like to express its sincerest gratitude to the late Mrs. Elizabeth O’Kelly for the largest single bequest in the 40 year history of the Association.
Whilst the continued efforts of our fundraisers will always remain vital for the support and services the Irish Kidney Association provides, Mrs. O’Kelly’s bequest will enable the Association to pursue new projects that have previously been out of reach and to fund further developments into renal disease and treatments. Her generosity will make a huge difference to those living with and affected by kidney disease in Ireland.
This year the Irish Kidney Association is marking 40 years since its establishment. It has been an opportunity to reflect on where we have come from and look forward to where we are going. With the extremely generous bequest received from the late Mrs. Elizabeth O’Kelly she has given us the opportunity to consider delivering projects that were previously aspirational. It is our responsibility to ensure that the benefits of her legacy will be felt by people living with, and affected by, kidney failure for many years to come.
The Association has always focused on the needs of patients. In the early days it was about raising funds to get dialysis units built and we introduced the’ kidney donor card’ forty years ago (which subsequently has evolved into the ‘organ donor card’). As the Association developed so has the range of services it could offer. Being built on a network of twenty five branches covering the country has allowed us to have a grassroots presence that is accessible to patients wherever they live. Equally, our Branches keep us rooted in the people we serve – people living with, and affected by, kidney failure. With every Branch electing a member of the national Board of the Association it ensures that the voices of our members are heard, and their interests are kept at the centre of everything that we do.
The Board of the IKA has been discussing how to make a real difference with the unprecedented opportunity afforded to us through Mrs. O’Kelly’s bequest. This has involved reviewing what we do now and what are the needs going forward. We have a range of services that are currently being provided by the Association ranging from advocacy, counselling and patient aid to facilitating holidays for people on dialysis, promoting positive health through sport and providing the Renal Support Centre in the grounds of Beaumont Hospital. We are also the lead organisation nationally for the promotion of organ donation.
During the economic downturn when funding, for all charities, fell dramatically our focus had to be on maintaining our existing services to the best of our ability. With approximately 75% of our funding coming from the public, the fund-raising activities of our members and supporters have always been central in giving the Association the ability to deliver our range of on-going services.
With the continued support of our members and supporters in funding the delivery of existing services, the Association will be able to use Mrs. O’Kelly’s bequest to deliver on plans for new and enhanced services. For example, we have already purchased a house next to Cork University Hospital that we will convert to an accommodation facility for patients and family members when they have appointments or admissions – similar to the services currently provided through our Renal Support Centre in Dublin for people attending Beaumont Hospital.
We are also now in a position to deliver a dialysis unit next to our holiday facility in Tramore which, with HSE cooperation, will open up the opportunity for increased holiday dialysis. Most dialysis patients are totally restricted to their local dialysis treatment centre making it difficult for them to travel due to a shortage of national dialysis capacity.
We have also agreed to financially support research through the Irish Nephrology Society – an aspect of the work of the Association that we have not been able to fund for a considerable period.
After 40 years the Irish Kidney Association has deep roots in the community across the country thanks to our Branch network and is very much respected as an advocate for patients and their families.
While the role of the HSE for renal patients encompasses the provision of treatment and care, the Irish Kidney Association will continue in its aim to strive for the best outcomes for renal patients and their families by continuing to innovate and advocate on their behalf.
Through Mrs. O’Kelly’s thoughtfulness we can look forward to being able to deliver enhanced services to our members and the wider renal community. Her legacy will greatly ease the burden on those affected by renal illness for years to come. For this we express our deepest gratitude.