KIDNEY patients with a suitable living donor lined up are being forced to wait for over a year before their transplants can take place.
A living donor kidney transplant involves an extensive series of clinical assessments and tests to judge suitability, known as a "work-up", before the operation takes place.
And a spokesperson for Beaumont Hospital said that the waiting time between these consultations and the transplant now stands at over 12 months.
"The transplant team at Beaumont are striving to have a maximum of three to six months' waiting time from 'work-up' to procedure," the spokesperson said last night.
"However, due to the current demands on the service this time is now in excess of one year.
"Preparing patients and their donors too far in advance or without a planned procedure date within a few months would render some of the clinical assessments and diagnostics invalid, requiring repetition."
The National Renal Transplant Programme at Beaumont Hospital last year received funding for expansion but a hospital official admitted that "the recruitment and retention of specialised staff in this area is a challenge. A new theatre has been developed – that is now ready. . . Now we are in the process of recruiting specially trained staff to operate this".
This recruitment is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, and the theatre is expected to be in use in May.
"The live donor programme is growing. Thirty-eight live donor transplants were performed in 2013. Currently, there are 61 live donors in various stages of 'work-up'.
"The aim is to achieve 50 live donor transplants this year. We are working towards a live donor transplant rate of 100 per annum over the next few years," the spokesperson added.
However, a spokesperson for the Irish Kidney Association criticised the hospital as "dragging their heels".
The spokesperson added: "They have been given the money to open the extra theatre and staff, and they don't seem to be able to do it. (I'd) say that senior management is the problem. People are going to have to wait longer for their living transplants."
This week is the national Organ Donor Awareness Week.