The HSE’s Organ Donation Transplant Ireland (ODTI) urges you to have that conversation with family over the holidays
As is tradition, we remember our donors in this past year and celebrate and give thanks for their selfless gift to others.
The HSE’s ODTI are asking people to share their views and wishes on organ donation with their families and friends over Christmas and in the New Year. We would remind all to stay safe in these difficult times.
We are joined again this year by patients, donor families and staff in their appeal to the public to #HaveThatConversation and remember that organ donation saves lives.
Approximately 500 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Ireland. This is includes patients on dialysis awaiting kidney transplants and patients waiting for lung, heart and liver transplants. While some kidney donations can take place through the living donation programme, all other organ donations can only proceed when another life is lost.
Dr Catherine Motherway, Intensive Care Consultant in University Hospital Limerick and Clinical Lead for Organ Donation explains that organ donation is among the greatest gifts we can give to another.
“Having that conversation and letting family members know our views and wishes on organ donation is really important.
“The priority for all of us who work in intensive care is to save lives. However, sadly at times this is not always possible. As part of end of life care when appropriate we offer families the opportunity for their relative to donate organs. In such circumstances we approach families to ask if their loved one would have wanted to donate organs. When faced with sudden loss and grief we know that for families who have had that conversation and have talked about organ donation the decision making can be easier and less daunting when they know what their relative would have wanted. It can bring great comfort to a family that we in the intensive care and transplant community can honour their loved ones wishes to become an organ donor and transform someone else’s life. We are constantly humbled working with families of our donors who in the midst of tragedy find the strength to help others in need. They have our deepest gratitude and sympathy.”
In 2017 Janet O Brien lost her son Luke O Reilly (20) tragically following an attack on Halloween night. Luke’s organs were donated and Janet says Luke lives on through organ donation. She said “I instinctively knew donation was what Luke would have wanted and I find solace in knowing my son has helped others.”
Rebecca Maher’s daughter Matilda passed away when she was 8 months old. Matilda was born with a major heart condition and was too sick to go on the transplant list. Matilda became an organ donor and Rebecca says for herself and her husband Brendan “It has given us huge comfort to know that Matilda has saved somebody else’s life and the life of their family.”
Karen Kelly is Josh’s mammy. Last year Josh, now 8 years old, was placed on dialysis awaiting a kidney transplant. Following a thorough testing regime, in Beaumont hospital Karen was confirmed as a suitable donor for Josh. Karen bravely donated her kidney to Josh. Her kidney surgery took place in Beaumont in October and on the same day Josh received his new kidney in Temple Street. Karen said “For me the hardest part was not being able to be with Josh during his surgery in Temple Street as I recovered in Beaumont Hospital. Josh is now a happy and healthy 8 year old and I am very proud to be an organ donor. I really want to reach out and support and anyone who may find themselves in similar circumstances and let everyone know how important organ donation is in saving and improving lives.”
Since his double lung transplant in 2017 David Crosby has continued to run marathons across the world in honour of the donor who gave him the gift of life. He said; “My plans for 2020 were unfortunately put on hold but I am determined to keep on running and complete the Marathon super six series as soon as I can. I would like everyone to know how important it is to share your wishes on organ donation. I will be forever grateful to my donor their family who saved my life.”
Organ donation continues to be a rare event; of 31,000 deaths each year in Ireland, we see an average of 80 multi organ donations per annum.
The HSE and ODTI sincerely thank the families of deceased donors who at a time of great tragedy found the strength to offer a new lease of life to many people.
For all the positive stories of successful transplant, sadly some patients do and will die each year while waiting for a transplant.
ODTI and their extended team, remain committed to increasing organ donations and transplants and urge all, to have that conversation about donation and make their wishes known. Having the conversation ensures wherever possible the loss of one precious life can be turned to benefit many others through donation.
Rebecca Maher, mum of Matilda