Press Release

Minister Harney urges families to discuss the issue of organ donation

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D. said today (Thursday, 17th September) that new figures from the HSE’s ‘Audit of Potential Organ Donors’ confirmed the need for people to carry organ donor cards and for families to discuss the issue of organ donation amongst themselves.

The audit summarised the availability of organs for transplantation in a 12 month period in Ireland from September 2007 to August 2008:

  • 200 patients were considered for brain stem death testing;
  • 138 individuals were identified as suitable potential organ donors;
  • organ donation was discussed with next-of-kin in 133 cases;
  • consent was given in 92 cases;
  • 90 organ donations took place;
  • 13 potential donors had donor cards.

Among the reasons given by next-of-kin for not consenting were:

  • next-of-kin unsure of patient’s wishes;
  • next-of-kin divided on organ donation;
  • next-of-kin felt patient had suffered enough.

The Minister commented that “The HSE audit shows how rare and precious a gift organ donation is.  The issue of organ donation occurs at a time of tragedy and great emotional distress for a family.  I believe that their act of organ donation brings some comfort to the family through the knowledge that their decision will have saved up to five other lives.” 

The Minister added that “Organ transplantation is a miracle of modern science, which transforms the lives of about 150 people in Ireland every year, who would have otherwise died.  I would urge people to discuss the issue of organ donation today so that their wishes are known by their families in the event of a tragedy.” 

“The figures also show the importance of people applying for, and carrying a donor card, and I would encourage everyone to do so.”

The Minister referred to the fact that over 1,000 submissions had been made as part of a recent public consultation on organ donation earlier this year adding that “I intend to bring proposals to Government this Autumn that cover consent for organ donation and I will establish a specific office within the HSE with responsibility to monitor, review and improve organ donation and transplantation for Irish patients”.