THIS WEEK MARKS Organ Donation Awareness Week which runs until Saturday, April 7.
The national life-saving awareness campaign is organised by the Irish Kidney Association in a bid to highlight the importance of carrying an Organ Donor Card and about the ongoing and everincreasing demand for organ donation and transplantation.
Carrying a card can save a life and ensure that vital transplant operations can be carried out.
There are currently over 650 people in Ireland awaiting organ transplants.
Last year Beaumont Hospital conducted a record 200 transplants including 165 Kidney which included seven combined kidney/pancreas transplants and one pancreas alone transplant.
A record 27 living donor kidney transplants were also carried out and that activity continues to thrive.
The consequence of so many kidney transplants last year is that there were only eight more adults and five children on dialysis at the end of 2011, compared with the beginning.
In 2011, St. Vincent's University Hospital transplanted 61 livers, which represents an increase of 60 per cent on the previous year.
The Mater Miscericordiae University Hospital doubled its transplant activity from 2010 with eight lung and six heart transplants conducted in 2011.
'Last year was a record year for organ donation and also the year for the lowest number of road traffic deaths ever recorded in the state, dispelling the public myth that most organ donors come from road traffic accidents', explained Mark Murphy, Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association, at the National Launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2012.
Mr. Murphy added that ' to increase our levels of organ donation and transplantation the overriding wish would be for an Irish Organ Donor Registry to allow the public to voluntarily identify themselves on a database, similar to the practice in many countries including the UK. This data could be captured electronically and would be easily achieved and affordable with cooperation between our government departments.'
At the launch event calls were also made on the Minister to divert more resources to organ donation and transplantation in order to address the growing number of people on transplant waiting pools as well as the 100 per cent rise in kidney patients being treated by dialysis over a ten year period.
Organ Donor Awareness Week also serves as a fundraising exercise for the Irish Kidney Association. Throughout the week Irish Kidney Association volunteers will be out on the streets and in shopping centres throughout the country selling 'forget me not flower' emblems (the symbol of transplantation), brooches, magnetic car ribbons and pens.
Proceeds will go to the Irish Kidney Association's support programme for patients on dialysis and those patients fortunate enough to have a kidney transplant.
Donations can be made online via Paypal to the Irish Kidney Association by logging on to www.ika.ie
Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association Locall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie
It is now possible to store an organ donor card, the 'ecard' on Smart mobile phones. Simply search for 'Donor Ecard' at the Iphone Store or Android Market Place.