Press Release

Minister for Health Simon Harris launches Organ Donor Awareness Week

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today launched Organ Donor Awareness Week 2019 and committed to bringing forward landmark legislation on organ donation next month.

In 2018, there was a total of 274 transplants carried out and there was a record number of donating hospitals last year with donations occurring in 25 hospitals.

Speaking at today’s event, Mr Harris said: “The impact of Organ Donor Awareness Week has been demonstrated in the past by noticeable spikes in the levels of donation in the period during and after the week involved. Our real challenge is to maintain high levels of donation and transplantation throughout the year.

“Organ donation is among the most selfless acts we can bestow upon another person. I would ask that, during Organ Donation Awareness Week, everyone would not only consider becoming an organ donor but, more importantly, share this intention with your loved ones.”

The Minister also announced the decision to amend the the Policy on the Reimbursement of Expenses of Living Kidney Donors. The aim of the policy is to acknowledge living donors and to minimise any financial disincentives that might arise for such donors.

The amendments to the policy include:

the reimbursement of childcare costs that would not have otherwise been incurred by a donor up to an upper limit of €5,000. (Childcare providers must be registered with Tusla);
the reimbursement of costs incurred by self-employed donors to employ a person to replace them in their business up to an upper limit of €10,000;
the inclusion of Living Liver Donors.

Mr Harris added: “As Minister for Health, I am committed to building on the continued success we are seeing in the area of organ donation and transplantation.

“I want to ensure that Ireland ranks among the most successful countries in terms of the number of people who donate their organs, the number of transplants that arise from these donations and the subsequent quality of life of organ recipients.

“However, the reality of organ donation and transplantation is that very limited number of people die in circumstances where organ donation is a possibility. It is therefore incumbent on policy makers and clinicians to ensure that all donor opportunities are followed up and that they lead to transplants if that proves possible.

“Increasing the number of organ donations is a prerequisite for more organ transplants.

“Intensive work is continuing to finalise legislative proposals to provide for an opt-out system of consent for organ donation, as part of the Human Tissue Bill.

“I intend to bring this Bill to Government in April. The legislation will be accompanied by a publicity campaign, aiming to raise awareness of organ donation and to encourage people to make a decision in relation to organ donation and to share that decision with their loved ones.

“My Department continues to work with Organ Donation Transplant Ireland, Intensive Care Units and the transplant hospitals, in building upon the achievements of recent years.”