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Kidney Transplant Recipient Lisa Fitzgerald with Dr.Emir Hoti, Consultant Surgeon Liver Transplantation, HPB & Pancreatic Surgery; Dr. Tom Gallagher, General Surgery, HPB and Liver Transplant Surgeon, St. Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH); and Prof. David Healy, Cardiothoracic Surgeon (heart & lung transplant surgeon), at The Mater Hospital and SVUH.

Transplant Surgeons Celebrated On Global Surgery Day

To mark Global Surgery Day on Thursday, 25th May, which coincides with Organ Donor Awareness Week, and to celebrate the contribution of transplant surgeons and their valued lifesaving role, a photo call was held. The event was organised by the Irish Kidney Association and supported by Organ Donation Transplant Ireland and location host St. Vincent’s University Hospital. It brought together transplant surgeons and transplant recipients on the 60thanniversary year of transplantation in Ireland, a kidney transplant which took place at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital on St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Since then many other important milestones in transplantation have taken place in Ireland made possible by organ donors and transplant teams.

Dr. Catherine Motherway, Clinical Lead, Organ Donation Transplant Ireland said, “Global Surgery Day happens each year on May 25th! This year in Ireland it coincides with Organ Donor Awareness Week. As we celebrate 60 years of Organ Donation and Transplant in Ireland, we recall it is nearly 69 years since the world’s first successful kidney transplant! In that time enormous advances have been made in transplant medicine, surgical techniques, immunology, tissue typing, peri-operative and critical care, leading to much improved outcomes for our transplant community!”

“Our Surgeons and their teams have been instrumental in driving, developing, and advocating for our National Transplant Programmes. They deliver a 24/7 service with excellent outcomes for our transplant patients and ensure that our donors and their families’ decision to donate and give the Gift of Life is honoured.”

Transplant surgeons who took part in the photocall were Dr.Emir Hoti, Consultant Surgeon Liver Transplantation, HPB & Pancreatic Surgery;  Dr. Tom Gallagher, General Surgery, HPB and Liver Transplant Surgeon, St. Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH); and Prof. David Healy, Cardiothoracic Surgeon (heart & lung transplant surgeon), at The Mater Hospital and SVUH.

They were joined by transplant recipients whose lives have been saved and transformed through the transplants they have received. They included two people who underwent their transplants at SVUH including 27-year-old Ciara O’Connor from Tralee who received a liver transplant in March this year, and Rachel O’Hora (40), from Bohola, Co. Mayo and now living in Blackrock, Co Dublin underwent a combined pancreas and kidney transplant in St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Lisa Fitzgerald (42) from Kiltipper, Dublin 24 who underwent a kidney transplant in February 2019 at Beaumont Hospital.  Martin Malinowski (31) who was the first person in Ireland to undergo a heart and liver transplant in 2021 at The Mater Hospital travelled from his home Castleblayney, Co Monaghan for the event. His double transplant involved a multidisciplinary team from both the Mater Hospital and St. Vincent’s Hospital as he was transplanted with a heart first and directly afterwards the liver transplant team from St. Vincent’s Hospital brought their expertise and equipment to The Mater to transplant Martin with a donor liver. Attending also was Gillian Curtis (43) from Portlaoise (and a native of Athy) who underwent a heart transplant at the Mater Hospital in 2019, which followed two false calls.

Ms. Carol Moore, Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association said, “Notwithstanding the invaluable contribution of all the medical and nursing staff involved in organ donation and transplantation made possible by organ donors, it is important that we take time to celebrate the skilled work and dedication of transplant surgeons who work so hard on behalf of patients when called at any hour of the day or night to carry out transplant operations. It really is encouraging to see how far medical advances have come for transplantation over the years. Families of transplant recipients, up and down the country, are grateful thattheir loved ones are living longer.”

Speaking at the event Dr. Emir Hoti, Consultant HPB & Liver Transpant Surgeon at SVUH said, “At St. Vincent’s University Hospital, we perform a range of complex surgeries annually including 100 – 110 pancreatic resections, 160 liver resections, 50 – 60 liver transplants, 6 – 8 pancreas transplants and 40 – 50 major robotic resections. Global Surgery Day is a powerful reminder of the transformative impact surgical interventions have on individuals and communities worldwide. Through collaboration and innovation, we can bridge the gaps in healthcare access and make life-saving surgical care more accessible to those in need. As surgeons, we have a responsibility to not only provide exemplary surgical care but also to share our knowledge and experiences, empowering the next generation of medical professionals. By joining forces, we can drive positive change and shape the future of surgical care for the better.”

Dr. Tom Gallagher, Consultant HPB, Pancreatic and Liver Transplant Surgeon at SVUH said, “On Global Surgery Day, we are reminded that ensuring access to high quality timely surgical care is a core tenet of any healthcare system. This of course is equally applicable in our national liver transplant, pancreas transplant and hepatobiliary cancer programs here in SVUH. Our ability to provide the safest, most effective and timely service to our patients, however, is only possible through a strong multi-disciplinary team throughout the hospital and in our wider network. Improving access and outcomes for this incredibly resilient group of patients is what drives us as a team on a daily basis.”

Mr. Robert McCutcheon, the Chairman of the Irish Heart & Lung Transplant Association said, “As we celebrate Global Surgery Day on Thursday 25th May, which coincides this year with Organ Donor Awareness Week, it is appropriate that I as Chairman of the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association and a heart transplant recipient take this opportunity to recognise the skill, expertise and commitment of our cardiothoracic surgeons and the entire transplant teams.”

2023 marks several important milestones in organ donation and transplantation in Ireland:


• The 60th anniversary of the first transplant to take place in Ireland, a kidney transplant for 21-year-old Ted Tobin, from Dublin, which took place at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital on St. Stephen’s Green

• 51st anniversary of Ireland’s first live donor kidney transplant at Jervis Street Hospital

• The 45th anniversary of the introduction of the kidney donor card by the Irish Kidney Association (in the same year the Association was founded 1978), which has evolved into the multi-organ donor card.

• 38 years since Ireland’s first heart transplant at the Mater University Hospital

• 31 years of pancreas transplantation; the programme began at Beaumont Hospital, founded by transplant surgeon Dr.David Hickey. The programme migrated to St. Vincent’s University Hospital in 2016.

• The 30th anniversary of Ireland’s first liver transplant at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

• The 20th anniversary of the paediatric kidney transplant programme at CHI Temple Street

• The 18th anniversary of the first lung transplant at the Mater University Hospital

• The 15th anniversary of first spousal (non-blood related) live donor kidney transplant at Beaumont Hospital

• 10 years since the introduction of code 115 on Drivers Licence in January 2013 with sign up by 1,485,988 drivers by 9th May 2023, representing 46.3% of all drivers


Organ Donor Awareness Week 2023 is taking place from 20 – 27 May and is organised by the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) in association with the HSE’s Organ Donation Transplant Ireland (ODTI). This year’s Organ Donor Awareness Week campaign, which coincides with European Public Health Week, is built around the theme ‘Don’t Leave Your Loved Ones in Doubt!’ #LeaveNoDoubt. The key message is that members of the public can play their part in supporting organ donation for transplantation by ensuring that their families are not left in any doubt about their wishes around organ donation. i.e., they make sure to ‘have the conversation’Sharing your wishes when you are in good health makes it a less stressful decision for your family in the event of them being approached about you being a potential organ donor.

There are currently over 5,000 people in Ireland enjoying extended life because of organ donation and transplantation.  At any one time in Ireland there are between approximately 600 people active on waiting lists for organ transplants including heart, lung, liver, kidney, and pancreas. 250 organ transplant operations were carried out in Ireland in 2022 (44 more transplants than in 2021). This activity last year, in very challenging times with COVID-19, could not have taken place but for the generosity of the families of 86 deceased donors and 33 living kidney donors. In 2022, 51 liver transplants and 8 pancreas transplants took place at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, while 10 heart transplants and 18 lung transplants were carried out at the Mater Hospital. Last year, saw an increase in the number of kidney transplants taking place at Beaumont Hospital – 163 kidney transplants took place of which 33 were from Living Kidney Donors. There are 2,466 people in Ireland in end stage kidney failure undergoing dialysis treatment, but only approximately one fifth of these are on the transplant waiting list.

All Organ Donor Awareness campaign posters are available in English, Irish and Polish, and digital copies can be downloaded from the Irish Kidney Association’s website

The Irish Kidney Association also provides their ‘Digital Organ Donor Card’ free to download from the App Store and the Google Play store.

Social media hashtags for Organ Donor Awareness Week are: #LeaveNoDoubt, #ShareYourWishes and #DonorWeek23. People can also tag the Irish Kidney Association when doing their own social media posts ( @IrishKidneyAs on Twitter, @IrishKidneyA on Instagram , @IrishKidneyAssociation on Facebook).

Individuals who wish to support organ donation by sharing their wishes with their loved ones and are encouraged to keep the reminders of their decision available by carrying the organ donor card, permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licence or having the ‘digital organ donor card’ App on their smartphone. Organ Donor Cards can be requested by  visiting the website or  by phoning the Irish Kidney Association  on Tel. 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050

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