Doctors seek transplant agency to boost donors
TALKS have opened between the Health Service Executive and doctors about creating a new 'Transplant Authority'.
The Irish Independent has learned that the first meeting between the HSE and experts was held three weeks ago -- exactly 25 years after the first heart transplant was carried out in Ireland.
Dr James McCarthy, heart-transplant surgeon at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, confirmed that meetings had begun in order to further transplant services in Ireland.
"We want to look back at the surgeries and audit the outcomes," he said.
"We also want to see how donor numbers in Ireland can be increased."
He said he was "hopeful" that the new Transplant Authority could be place before the end of the year.
Martin Burke, now aged 68, was amongst the first raft of patients when he underwent surgery in 1988. A problem with his aorta was discovered in 1975 but it was when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) that his health seriously deteriorated.
But just two months after going on the list he had a successful transplant. His wife Laura still remembers the anxious wait through the night.
"I can still see Dr Freddie Wood's face coming through the doors," she recalled from their home in Drogheda, Co Louth.
"He was very solemn-looking but as he got closer he gave me a slight smile and said, 'It's up and running'."
Martin doesn't know the identity of his donor but said he was eternally grateful.
"Both my and my wife's birthdays are in October," he said, "and that's when I had my operation. So it's like having three birthdays. I buy a Mass bouquet then and thank God for everything."
The couple, who had three children, now have six grandchildren.
Susan Farrell (26) was just 13 when she got a new heart. Now she lives a full and healthy life.
"I was able to finish school, go to college, get my Masters and now I'm working full-time," she said.
"The only direct impact is that I have to take immuno-suppressant drugs twice a day -- but I can live a completely normal life."
Both recipients appealed for people to carry donor cards. They also expressed their thanks to the staff of the Mater Hospital as well as the families of the donors.
The Mater has carried out 278 transplants in 25 years, with 11 of these last year.