Reilly to examine loss of medical cards for transplant recipients

‘Devastating, personal economic effect’ on 3,000 transplant recipients, Minister told

Transplant donors and recipients shared their stories of survival at the the Organ Donor Awareness Week launch today (March 26th) in Dublin. Video: Kathleen Harris

Wed, Mar 26, 2014, 17:23

The loss of discretionary medical cards for chronically ill people is having a “devastating, personal economic effect” on 3,000 transplant recipients in the Republic, Minister for Health James Reilly has been told.

Speaking at a function to mark the 50th anniversary of the first organ transplant in Ireland, Irish Kidney Association chief executive Mark Murphy appealed directly to Mr Reilly to reconsider the scrapping of discretionary medical cards for organ recipients and a further 1,800 people on kidney dialysis.

Since the scrapping of discretionary medical cards, the chronically ill, including those reliant on high technology medications, have faced large bills for their treatment, he said.

As a result a person in receipt of an organ who considers taking up employment, is facing a significant deterrent.

Speaking to reporters Mr Reilly said he would “look at how to support people who had transplants performed and who are in recovery phase.”

Mr Reilly said it was not intended “to discourage people going back to work and of course the whole point about transplantation is that it gives people back a normal life... so we will certainly examine how best we can do that”. However Mr Reilly said he could not go any further as he “would not be as familiar with the situation” as Mr Murphy. “We will examine the situation” he repeated.

Mr Reilly also said he intended to bring forward legislation before the end of the year to introduce the “opt out” form of consent for organ donation. Under this system patients would be presumed to be willing to have their organs donated. But he said it would be a “soft consent”.

Even if somebody is presumed to have given consent, if the family object clearly nobody is going to upset the family by overriding their wishes.”

The Irish Kidney Association said a record number of organ transplants were carried out in 2013, despite having the same number of deceased donors as ten years previously. Some 69 more organs were transplanted last year than a decade before. A total of 294 organs were transplanted in 2013 through living and deceased organ donation.