Saturday 27 May 2017

Why we need more to choose organ donation on driving licence

*Our RSA expert says it is a tough decision but a donation could change the lives of nine others

Organ donation could save the lives of nine others
Organ donation could save the lives of nine others

DECIDING whether or not to donate a loved one's organs is something nobody wants to have to face. Sadly, a number of families have to do just that every year.

For some, discussing their own mortality and organ donation can be uncomfortable. But it is a conversation we should all probably have at some stage with our families.

All donations here are coordinated through the Irish Organ Procurement Office at Beaumont Hospital. Preliminary figures for 2014 issued by ODTI show a decrease in organ donation and transplantation: 251 in 2014 compared with 294 in 2013. There are 650 people currently awaiting transplants.

One donor can potentially help nine other people. In recent years there was on average 80 donations a year and there were approximately 250 transplants.

To mark Organ Donor Awareness Week, the Road Safety Authority and the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) are jointly asking drivers to consider declaring if they wish to be an organ donor when applying for a plastic card Learner Permit or Full Driving Licence.

Since the introduction of the plastic card licence format in January 2013, the code 115 can be displayed.

This signifies you have indicated on the Learner Permit/ Driving Licence application form that you wish to be a donor.

A total of 426,091 drivers have been issued a Driving Licence or Learner Permit with Organ Donor code 115 from January 19, 2013 to February 28, 2015.

This includes 121,502 Learner Permits or 38.5pc of permits issued and 304,589 full licences or 39.7pc all of those issued.

This is the first time we have been able to put a figure on the number of drivers who are willing to become an organ donor, through the driving licence.

When Ireland, along with the rest of Europe, changed over to a standardised plastic card format driving licence, one of the new features added was the option to declare a willingness to sign up as an organ donor.

On the previous paper licence, it was left up to the individual themselves to tick the box on the back of the licence.

Under the new card system, question 18 on the application form specifically asks if you want to be an organ donor and have this displayed on your licence by referencing the code 115.

In Ireland, consent is never presumed, even if a donor card itself has been signed.

Your next-of-kin would always be consulted and asked for consent for donation to proceed.

It will hopefully never come to pass, but ticking the box on the application form when applying for a licence or learner permit is just one way of expressing your views on the topic to your next of kin.

The focus of Organ Donor Awareness Week is to raise awareness about the ever increasing demand for transplants.

Families need to talk together and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying an organ donor card, by downloading the Smartphone App and by having the Organ Donor code 115 on the licence.

The Irish Kidney Association is the national organisation charged with the promotion and distribution of the organ donor card on behalf of Organ Donation Transplant Ireland.

You can also get Organ Donor Cards by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050. Visit their website www.ika.ie

It is something that is difficult, perhaps, to countenance, but it could make such a difference.

What are your thoughts on this sensitive subject?: ecunningham@independent.ie

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