Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Health, Colm Burke, has said that the correct decision was taken not to annul the organ donation legislation which was being discussed today (Tuesday) in Seanad Éireann. Senator Burke went on to say that annulling the legislation would do nothing to improve organ donation and transplantation rates in Ireland but would instead make Ireland the only country in the European Union who does not have a coherent and detailed structure when it comes to the donation, testing, procurement, preservation, transportation and transplantation of organs.
“Let us be clear, we have a lot of catching up to do in this area; in 2000, there were 150 people waiting for kidney transplants. By 2010, the figure had reached over 650; a 333% increase over that period.
“By the end of 2012, there were 1,828 people on dialysis at a cost to the State of €118.9 million per annum. At the present time in Norway, which has a population similar to that of Ireland, there are only 370 people on dialysis. This represents an unacceptable response to people in Ireland who are waiting for a transplant and who are facing an extremely challenging time in their lives.
“However, we must also be clear that the motion before the Seanad today did not deal with any of these issues. The primary purpose of the Directive and implementing Statutory Instrument is to set out a common framework, amongst Member States, on the quality and safety standards for organs which are intended for transplantation into the human body. These are important standards that will protect organ donors and recipients.
“By improving these standards across the European Union, there is a huge potential to increase organ availability and an opportunity to share experience and expertise amongst Member States and this legislation will reinforce that cooperation.
“There is no doubt that there is a need to deliver an immediate action plan to cater for living donors and recipients; there is a need to put the necessary infrastructure in place; there is a need to appoint donor co-ordinators in each of the main medical centres across the country; and for all of us to become involved in raising the awareness of this issue. However, annulling this legislation would do nothing to achieve any of these goals.”