A RECORD number of children received renal transplants this year – but 20 children nationwide are still waiting for a new kidney.
The National Renal Transplant unit at Temple Street Children's University Hospital conducted kidney transplants on 16 children this year – the most transplants in one year since the unit was set up nine years ago.
Of the 16 transplants in 2012, seven children received their new kidney from a living donor – either a relative or friend – and nine were from a deceased donor.
The children who received new kidneys were aged four to 14.
The Temple Street unit is now encouraging people to mark the start of the new year by carrying a donor card and make the greatest possible act of generosity by giving the gift of life.
Dr Niamh Dolan, consultant paediatric nephrologist at Temple Street, revealed that 20 children are currently waiting for a kidney transplant.
Many of these children have been coming to the hospital for dialysis three times a week from all over the country for periods from six months to five years while waiting for a kidney.
"Each time they attend the hospital they spend three hours on a machine losing precious days of family, home and school life," she said.
She urged people to consider becoming an organ donor and to speak to their families about their decision.
"When a child's kidneys fail or when they are born without normal kidney function, it is devastating, and for these children organ donation can be a means to regain a normal life without the rigorous routine of dialysis," she added.
Sheila Boyle, senior nephrology nurse at Temple Street, said that the 16 transplants carried out in 2012 were significantly up from the previous year, when seven transplants were conducted.
"The number is increasing because of the ever-increasing number of generous people who carry donor cards," she said.
And she added that each time the hospital receives a kidney, they are mindful of the donor and their family and of the difficult decision the relatives were forced to make at a most distressing time.
However, they also see the hugely positive impact this decision has on the lives of our patients.
"When a kidney transplant is successful it can transform a child's life. They no longer need dialysis and do many things that we take for granted.
"They can eat and drink the same as their friends and will have more energy to play" said Ms Boyle.
Prospective donors can contact the Irish Kidney Association by email on firstname.lastname@example.org, by texting freetext DONOR to 50050, by telephone on 1890 543 639 or by freepost letter to Donor House, Irish Kidney Association, Park West, Dublin 12.
Alternatively you can collect a donor card at your local pharmacy or sign the back of your driving licence to indicate your wishes.