The Irish Kidney Association is very disappointed to learn about a transplant operation not proceeding at the Mater Hospital, earlier this month, due to the lack of an ICU bed.
Our thoughts are with the patient, who was called for a life saving operation, which was then postponed because of resource shortages, rather than a health issue.
We salute the donor family’s generosity at a time of great sadness for their selflessness and we hope that some of their loved one’s other organs might have gone on to save patients transplanted at Beaumont Hospital or St. Vincent’s University Hospital who were waiting for a kidney, liver or pancreas transplant.
We acknowledge that it must have been a very difficult decision for health care professionals, who have been working under severe pressure during COVID-19, to not be able to proceed with the life saving operation.
The Irish Kidney Association is echoing the Organ Donation Transplant Ireland’s call for transplant activity to be ring fenced thus avoiding any further cancellations due to unavailable resources.
Reflecting on the impact of COVID-19, Prof. Jim Egan, Director of Organ Donation Transplant Ireland (ODTI), wrote in the 2020 ODTI Annual Report:
The pressures on ICU capacity were substantial and the demands around organ donation underscored the ICU bed capacity infrastructure deficit, as highlighted by the Prospectus Report in 2011. Furthermore, the provision of specialised transplant surgical services was under threat from unscheduled acute care in the three major acute hospitals providing transplant services. This underpins the need to ring fence national transplant programmes to sustain them during waves of unexpected unscheduled care demands.
It is a global trend that transplant activity has decreased significantly during COVID-19. See table below:
We need more clarity about the reasons why more transplant operations are not taking place in Ireland. For example, was this decline due to a lack of ICU beds in the donor or transplant centre or were all suitable donor families approached?
In the UK, detailed reports are available on each of the steps which result in transplant. From this report we can see that in the year to April 2021, one transplant operation did not proceed in the UK due to the lack of a critical care bed. (see extract overleaf)
No such data is published in Ireland. This means we do not know what key actions are required to improve transplant rates.
We hope that what happened at the Mater Hospital earlier this month is an isolated incident and that it will not be repeated.
We commend all those involved in the health service for the continuance of transplant activity throughout COVID-19 under exceedingly difficult circumstances. Their dedication together with the generosity of spirit of organ donor families offers hope to patients in organ failure who are desperately hoping to be called for transplants.
We encourage people to continue to support organ donation, have the conversation with their loved ones, and let their wishes be known.
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website at www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card cards or download a free digital organ donor card APP to your phone.
You can also indicate your decision to donate by having Code 115 added to your Drivers Licence.
UK Extract from Annual Activity report from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021
See full report at:
No such data is published in Ireland. This means we do not know what key actions are needed to improve transplant rates.