Fury over transfer of donor organs to Britain
Published 15/02/2010 | 05:00
THE country's largest transplant hospital sent three viable organs abroad last month and the Irish Kidney Association believes the explanation for this incident "doesn't add up".
In a statement issued yesterday, Beaumont Hospital confirmed that two kidneys and a pancreas were sent to the United Kingdom Transplant Service because a "highly exceptional situation" arose.
Due to building work at the hospital, beds in the transplantation unit were moved to a different location last November, presenting "issues for the provision of nursing by the highly trained specialist staff".
On January 26, four kidneys and a pancreas became available at a time when seven patients had received transplants in the preceding two days and a patient with a pancreas transplant had been transferred to Beaumont's transplant unit and could not be moved.
"A situation in which organs might have become unviable for transplant was averted by transferring them to another hospital," the statement said.
Speaking on RTE radio yesterday, HSE chief executive Professor Brendan Drumm said that while the building of a cancer centre was ongoing, patients were being given post- transplant care in a "fully filtered eight-bed unit, which reduced their (the hospital's) capacity". He said the hospital management would take measures to ensure the situation did not occur again.
But Mark Murphy, chief executive of the Irish Kidney Association, questioned the explanation offered by the hospital and the HSE.
"It doesn't add up," he said.
Mr Murphy said Beaumont had publicly stated its intention to increase the number of transplants it conducted this year, after a successful 2009, when 172 kidneys were transplanted, of which 18 were part of the living donor programme.
"Whatever interim plan they made last November was obviously not a plan that was successful; they reduced their capacity to carry out post-operative care," he said.
"Transplant post-operative care is as crucial to success as the procedure itself."
Mr Murphy said that, to his knowledge, this was the first time that Beaumont has had to transfer organs due to problems with beds.
While he said he was glad to know that the organs had not been wasted, "the credibility of the hospital falls on something like this".
The sending abroad of the three organs, despite a waiting list of 580 patients here, was revealed in yesterday's 'Sunday Tribune'.
Mr Murphy also questioned why an initial statement from Beaumont last week on the sending abroad of the organs had made no reference to building work or reduced capacity.