"Towards a Transplant & Organ Donation Policy Framework in Ireland" - Seminar, Morrison Hotel, Dublin – Thursday 5th November 9.30am – 1.00pm

05 November 2009

The recent death of writer Frank Deasy, who was waiting 7 months for a liver transplant, has heightened public attention on organ donation and transplant issues in Ireland in a way that has never happened before.

While recent discussion has focussed on the need for more organ donation and transplants to be carried out in Ireland, there has been comparatively little discussion on what is actually needs to be put in place from a public policy perspective. At present there is no legislative or policy framework underpinning transplantation in Ireland.

In this context the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland (CFAI) is hosting a roundtable discussion with key experts, health care professionals and parents to discuss what policies need to be put in place.

In particular the seminar will be considering the following:

The need for a national organ donor registry. At present there is no national database of organ donors in Ireland and we therefore have to rely on the hope that people carry their organ donor card with them at all times and they have informed their next of kin.

The need for urgency in the enactment of the Human Tissue Bill. At present the Human Tissue Bill will not begin the process of enactment until an unknown date in 2010. This Bill will provide the legislative framework for transplant, donation and related issues in Ireland. In particular there is a need to establish a transplant authority/office in Ireland to oversee the legislation and coordination in this important policy area.

The need for transplant coordinators in our main hospitals. The procurement, storage and utilisation of organs once they have been donated is key to the success of a transplant programme in Ireland. While organ donation is quite high in Ireland, there is major gap between donation and utilisation. Where a network of transplant coordinators exists (for example in Spain) the rate of organ utilisation increases significantly.

Speakers at the conference include Professor Jim Egan of the Mater Hospital, Dr. Freda O Neill from the HSE who has recently chaired an audit of organ donation in Ireland, and Joanne Osmond who will speak about the present policy and legislative system in Britain. There will also be inputs from Beaumont Hospital, Cork University Hospital, St. Vincent's University Hospital and the Irish Donors Network.

While the meeting will have a particular focus on double lung transplantation which is often needed by people with Cystic Fibrosis when their lung function diminishes, there will be a range of interests participating in the meeting including those focussing on heart, lung, liver and kidney transplantation.