There was a record 308 organ transplants in the State last year, including five pancreas transplants following a two-year suspension of the procedure.
The number of organ transplants has been increasingly steadily for a decade due primarily to increased awareness of and consent to postmortem organ donation. Living kidney donors have also increased substantially over the years, up from 10 in 2008 to 51 last year.
A total of 98 people donated their organs to others after death this year, up from 77 in 2016. Many of these donated more than one organ meaning the total number of transplants carried out was 308, up from 280 last year.
Kidneys made up most of the transplants (190) followed by livers (61), lungs (36) and hearts (16).
There were five pancreas transplants this year, the first such procedures since 2014 when the surgeon who founded the programme, Dr David Hickey, retired from Beaumont Hospital.
The procedures are now carried out at St Vincent’s University Hospital following a successful transfer of operations this year.
Prof Jim Egan, director of organ donation and Transplant Ireland, and Minister for Health Simon Harris thanked those who donated their organs.
“The excellent rates of organ donation and transplantation in 2017 reflect the generosity of Irish society. Most importantly, I acknowledge the courage and generosity of families who have donated their loved one’s organs,” Prof Egan said.
“Without these acts of extreme kindness, we cannot develop our transplantation programmes,” Mr Harris said. “I can only imagine the relief and joy brought to the over 300 organ recipients and their families and friends as they celebrated Christmas and as they look forward to the new year with renewed hope and confidence.”
The Department of Health also released the results of a public consultation process ahead of the Human Tissue Bill, which proposes to introduce an opt-out system for organ donation.
This will mean families will have to actively state they do not want their loved one’s organs harvested after death.
Sixty-five per cent of the 261 respondents to the consultation supported an opt-out system.
Seventy per cent said they would be very unlikely to opt-out of organ donation. A similar number said they would very unlikely to object to the donation of a deceased family member’s organ.