Speech by the Minister for Health & Children, Mr Micheál Martin at the launch of the 2001 National Donor Forget-Me-Not week on Wednesday, 28th March, 2001 in Newman House, St. Stephen’s Green at 2.45pm
Chairperson, Ladies and Gentleman, I am very pleased to be here today and to have this opportunity to speak to you on the occasion of the launch of the “National Donor Forget-Me-Not Week”. I was delighted to receive the invitation to do so from Mr Mark Murphy, Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association and may I say that I had no hesitation in accepting it.
“National Donor Forget-Me-Not Week” is a very important event in the calendar for the Irish Health Service. It clearly highlights the role of the voluntary sector in the Health Service and demonstrates the benefits of the partnership approach inherent in the Donor for Transplantation Campaign.
Irish Kidney Association
I would like to pay tribute to the members of the Irish Kidney Association in their twenty three branches nation-wide who have been providing information, counselling and respite care for patients and their families since 1978.
During “Forget-Me-Not” week the importance of organ donation is highlighted and a special plea is made for funding to enable the Irish Kidney Association to continue its tremendous work. The invaluable contribution that the Association has made to research into kidney disease, to public and professional awareness of this complaint, the funds contributed for the purchase of equipment and the counselling services are to be applauded.
Promotion of Organ Donation
The Association plays a vital role in raising public awareness in relation to organ donation and this function is a particularly important one in 2001 when the positive life giving aspect of organ donation must be highlighted to deflect any negative ill informed public perception which may arise resulting from recent organ retention controversies.
I would like to commend the Association for producing a new “Information Fact File” to accompany donor cards. This information leaflet clearly outlines the facts of donating life and transplanting life as well as addressing all the common questions which arise in relation to this sensitive issue. I am confident this initiative by the Association will prove to be as successful as previous promotion campaigns and I want to publicly thank Andrea Corr for lending her support to the campaign we are launching here today.
I believe this proactive approach by the Association will reverse the negative downward trend that has emerged in the last year where the refusal rate for families who were asked to consent to transplant rose from 14% in 1999 to 35% in 2000. However, in 2000 there were 71 people whose organs were donated for transplantation and this in turn, benefited 180 patients.
Donor Awareness Week 2001
This year “Forget-Me-Not” week will run from 31st March to the 7th April and during this week volunteers will be promoting the importance of carrying a donor card and the “Gift of Life” that organ donation gives to patients.
I am aware that volunteers from the Irish Kidney Association’s twenty three branches around the country will be taking part in a variety of fundraising activities and the emblem for donor week, the “Forget-Me-Not” flower will be on sale all over the country. Last year the sale of these flowers raised £190,000 and I wish the Association every success this year.
Presentation of £175,000 from the National Lottery
In conclusion I would like to take this opportunity of congratulating the Irish Kidney Association on all its productive efforts of the years. I wish them continued success in their work. The National Donor Forget-Me-Not week is a very important week in the Association’s calendar and it is essential to constantly remind people of the importance of carrying Organ Donor Cards. I would also like to emphasise how important it is for relatives of organ donors to be aware of the wishes of potential donors and to be involved in the donation process.
I am very pleased to be able to increase the grant given by my Department to the Irish Kidney Association from the health allocation of the National Lottery Funds. In recognition of the multi-organ donor campaign I have great pleasure in giving a grant of £175,000 to the Association here today. This increased funding will help further promote the existing multi-organ donor campaign.
Finally, I would like to once again thank the Irish Kidney Association for inviting me here today to launch Forget-Me-Not week. It is a task I have great pleasure in performing. I congratulate the association on all its marvellous work over the past twenty three years and wish them many more successful years.