Number of lung transplants up threefold

Dramatically improved figures credited to appointment of dedicated surgeon at Mater hospital

Human respiratory system with lungs and bronchial tree

Human respiratory system with lungs and bronchial tree


The number of lung transplants carried out in Ireland increased threefold in just two years, according to new figures.

The dramatically improved figures for lung transplants – which contrast with Ireland’s overall transplant figures – is being credited to the appointment of a dedicated surgeon at the country’s lung transplant programme at Dublin’s Mater hospital.

Karen Redmond, who returned to Ireland from the UK in 2011, is skilled in a new technique that increases the number of available donor organs for lung transplantation. Some 80 per cent of donor lungs have to be rejected because they contain infections or fluid, but Ms Redmond and colleagues at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex succeeded in reconditioning damaged lungs by using a technique known as ex-vivo lung perfusion.

Since her appointment as a specialist thoracic lung transplant surgeon at the Mater, the number of lung transplants has increased from eight in 2011 to 24 so far this year. The number of double lung transplants has risen from two to 12.

So far this year, eight heart transplants have been carried out in the Mater, roughly comparable to the 10 performed last year. This ranked Ireland a lowly 21st in Europe, though the Irish Kidney Association points out that Ireland offers patients alternatives to heart transplants that are not available in other countries.

Tricia O’Connell, from Castleisland, Co Kerry, whose husband Shane is waiting for a heart transplant, appealed to the public yesterday to support efforts to increase organ donation levels.

‘Selfless thing’
Shane (33), who was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at the age of 11, has been on the waiting list for a transplant since February 2012.

“Organ donation is such a selfless thing for a grieving family to consider but it gives someone else their life back. Otherwise they would just be existing until their time runs out. It can save the lives of so many people who along with their families will be forever grateful. It truly is a wonderful gift, the gift of life,” said Ms O’Connell, speaking in advance of European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation on Saturday.

A rise in the number of living donors is helping to push up the number of kidney transplants. Some 134 kidney transplants have been carried out so far this year, compared to 131 last year. Twenty-four were from living donors.