‘Urgent’ need for second kidney transplant hospital

Transplant recipients join Irish Kidney Association’s donor awareness week launch

There is an "urgent" need for a second kidney transplanting hospital in Ireland as the current infrastructure at Beaumont Hospital cannot keep up with demand, the Irish Kidney Association has said.

The association said the number of people having dialysis in Ireland would increase from about 2,000 now to 3,000 in a decade, with an estimated additional cost of €50 million to the exchequer.

Chief executive Mark Murphy praised the kidney, lung, heart and liver transplant programmes in place, but said a second kidney transplant centre was needed to meet the "spiralling demand".

There are 460 people on the kidney transplant waiting list, representing just 23 per cent of those on dialysis. Beaumont Hospital carried out 153 kidney transplants last year, including 33 from living donors.


Dialysis treatment

At the end of 2015 there were 2,015 people in Ireland receiving dialysis treatment and 2,314 with a kidney transplant. This equated to a total of 930 per million of population with failed kidneys, which was below the EU average of 1,100.

Mr Murphy said, however, that as the Irish population aged, we could anticipate that we would get closer to the EU average and that we would need more dialysis facilities.

Medical staff, patient advocacy groups and transplant recipients joined the association at the Mansion House in Dublin on Tuesday for the launching of its annual Organ Donor Awareness Week, which runs from April 2nd to 9th.

Asked about establishing a second kidney transplant centre, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said it was "something that certainly can be considered".

“Others would argue that we should actually centralise the three transplant hospitals in one. I know that case has been made too, but that’s really something that would be a policy decision for the next government to examine.”

Responding to criticism from lung transplant recipient Gordon Ryan from Roscommon that a default "opt-out" system for organ donation had not been introduced, Mr Varadkar said it was something he would like to see in the next programme for government.

Family consent

Mr Varadkar said that, ultimately, any system put in place was going to require family consent and the agreement of next of kin.

Much more important than any legislation was that people sat down and had “difficult conversations” with their families about what they wished to happen to their organs in the case of a tragic accident, for example.

A spokeswoman for Beaumont Hospital said the National Kidney Transplant Service rate was determined by the availability of suitable donor organs.

It said the number of active patients on the deceased donor transplant waiting list had been reduced from 535 in March 2015 to 481 in March 2016.

In 2015, there were 266 organ transplants in Ireland, including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. This was 22 more than took place the year before.

St Vincent’s Hospital conducted 61 liver transplants last year. The Mater carried out 36 lung transplants and 16 heart transplants.

There are about 550 people in Ireland currently on the transplant waiting list.