Senator Mark Daly (centre) with members of the Irish Kidney Association Mark Murphy (left) Colin White, Gwen O’Donoghue, and Valerie Brady on the Plinth at the Dail after the recalled Seanad debate on organ donation. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly says the recall of the Seanad this day last year has secured improved resources for more than 600 people who are currently waiting on life saving organ transplant operations. The Kerry Senator spearheaded a campaign and secured the signatures of more than 20 Seanad colleagues to invoke a recall of the Chamber to debate and vote on the first ever law on organ donation in the history of the State.
Senator Daly says that while improvements have been made, more needs to be done to bring Ireland’s donation and transplant system in line with international standards, and he claims a fully functioning organ donation scheme will not only provide a better quality of life for transplant recipients, it could also result in major savings for the taxpayer.
Senator Daly commented, “The recall of the Seanad last summer brought organ donation and transplantation back into the spotlight. The Government’s handling of the issue left a lot to be desired; the then Health Minister James Reilly signed the EU organ donation directive into Irish legislation in 2011 without any debate in the Oireachtas. Subsequent calls for debates were refused and it was only when the Seanad was recalled that the issue was discussed.
“The week the Seanad was recalled, the HSE allocated extra senior staff and resources to the National Organ Donation and Transplant Office. Almost €3m in funding was set aside for 6 intensive care nurses, 6 link nurses, 5 procurement coordinators and 4 quality managers. The addition of these health professionals has improved the quality of service that patients waiting on organ transplants receive, but more needs to be done.
“Our record on organ donation has been criticised by international organisations, with the head of the Spanish Transplant Authority Rafael Matesanz claiming the system here is costing lives. Although improvements have been made in the past year there is still a long way to go in matching the high donation rates that other EU countries achieve.
“Improving our donation and transplant numbers would not only change the lives of those receiving a new organ, it would also result in significant cost savings for the taxpayer. The State stands to save around €100,000 per kidney transplant, because of reduced dialysis and medical costs. The Irish Kidney Association estimates that the savings made by organ transplant operations could amount to €325m over time. The employment of organ donor co-ordinators is a major step forward, but more needs to be done to transform Ireland’s organ donation system. It is essential that these changes are made to ensure that many more lives are saved and improved through transplantation”.