Save Lives with Organ Donor Awareness Week

*** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ** DUBLIN : 29/3/2016 ; MINISTER VARADKAR LAUNCHES ORGAN DONOR AWARENESS WEEK 2016 (2-9 April) AS IKA CALLS FOR SECOND KIDNEY TRANSPLANTING HOSPITAL. The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar officially launched the Irish Kidney Association’s Organ Donor Awareness Week 2016 (2-9 April) at the Mansion House, Dublin 2 today, Tuesday, 29th March, where he met members of the organ donation and transplant community including medical staff, patient advocate groups and patients. The Irish Kidney Association, while applauding the transplant programmes for Kidney, Heart, Lung and Liver, claimed there is an urgent need for a second kidney transplanting hospital to meet the spiralling demand for kidney transplants and combat massive future strain on the exchequer.  Predicting that the 2000 number of people on dialysis now will be 3000 in ten years’ time there will be an estimated additional cost of €50 million per year. Picture Conor McCabe Photography. MEDIA CONTACT :  Gwen O’Donoghue, Connect Communications, Mob 086 8241447

Alan Gleeson from Listowel, Co Kerry a member of the Garda Siochana working in Coolok, Dublin. His first kidney transplant, which he received when he was 16 years old, eventually started to fail when he reached his early 30s. He commenced early morning haemodialysis treatment at Beaumont Hospital in October 2014 which he continues with while on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography.

Organised by the Irish Kidney Association, Organ Donor Awareness Week begins on April 2 and will run until April 9. The national launch took place at 12.30 p.m. on Tuesday 29 March at Mansion House, Dublin.

The launch was hosted by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and featured representation from most of the 25 branches of the Irish Kidney Association, with applause being given to Kidney, Heart, Lung and Liver transplant programmes. The Minister also met with several members of the organ donation and transport community including medical staff and patients.

Figures have shown that 266 organ transplants took place in 2015, which was 22 more than in the previous year. The Irish Kidney Association applauded the generosity of the 81 late organ donors and their families who made these life-saving operations possible.

But the Minister highlighted that the demand for kidney transplants will continue to grow and it will have a dramatic impact on the economy. It has been predicted that the number of people on dialysis, which is currently at 2000, will have risen to 3000 in the next decade and that this will result in €50 million being added to the annual cost.

RTÉ News Anchor and Courts correspondent Vivienne Traynor will represent the campaign through posters and radio advertising, where she will encourage the public to support organ donation as well as alert them to the continuously increasing demand for it. Traynor has direct experience with the blessing of organ donation, as a kidney donation saved the life of her nephew Martin in November 2014.

Organ Donor Awareness Week encourages the public to become organ donors, with the possibility that after their death they may still be able to save someone else’s life. People can display their status as organ donors by carrying organ donors cards, downloading the Smartphone App and allowing Code 115 to be shown on their driver’s license.

The week is also a fundraising event, with 74% of the funds for the Irish Kidney Association being generated by the public. The Association will have volunteers on the streets and in shopping centres all over the country for the entire week, selling souvenirs to gauge interest in the organisation.

The funds raised from these activities allow the Association to provide services for patients including accommodation at at Beaumont Hospital, Tramore and Kerry, financial aid, advice, rehabilitation and health promotion through sport.

More information can be found in Irish Kidney Association fact files which can be found at pharmacies, GP surgeries and Citizen Information Offices. Organ Donor Cards can be acquired by phoning 1890543639 or by texting DONOR to to 50500 for free.

Smart phone mobiles now feature an ecard, which can be found by searching “Donor Ecard” in the iPhone Store or Android Market Place. Anyone can donate €2 to the Association by texting “kidney” to 50300.

By Kevin Carney