Friday 19 January 2018

Top surgeon hits out at transplant programme move

David Hickey, Consultant Transplant Surgeon at the Beaumont Hospital
David Hickey, Consultant Transplant Surgeon at the Beaumont Hospital
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

A top surgeon responsible for all the country's pancreas transplants has criticised plans to transfer the programme from Beaumont Hospital to St Vincent's, warning it "can't work".

David Hickey - director of the National Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Programme for 30 years until his retirement in December - revealed that the programme was completely stalled at Beaumont following his departure and no replacement had been hired.

No transplants have taken place over the past three-and-a-half months as a result. Currently there are eight people on the waiting list for the life-saving procedure.

A statement from Beaumont Hospital to the Irish Independent confirmed that all pancreas transplants will be carried out in St Vincent's from next month,.

"As St Vincent's University Hospital is already established as the National Liver Transplant Centre and is a designated centre for pancreas cancer services, this initiative will enable two National Transplant Programmes to share resources and support and promote improvements in transplantation services.

"As the majority of these cases are combined pancreas and kidney transplants, Beaumont consultants will carry out kidney transplants with their colleagues in St Vincent's," it read.

It said the Pancreas Transplant Programme in place in Beaumont since 1998 was provided on a "pilot basis".

Dr Hickey criticised the move and insisted it was "absolutely not possible."

"This is absolute rubbish. They have no idea what they are talking about. It has taken me 30 years to build up the team we have in Beaumont, who are all specialists in what they do. Vincent's do not have the infrastructure or the knowledge. Without moving the 20 people in my team this is impossible and they haven't been approached," he added.

Mr Hickey said he had repeatedly raised concerns with the HSE about the future of the programme and requested more specialists be trained up.

"I was the only person doing it for 30 years, but in spite of a multitude of letters to the Department of Health nothing was done. I had offered the HSE in December to mentor two people working on the programme with me for the last five years. I didn't even get an answer. I put forward two other alternatives, but they weren't acceptable either," he said.

In 2013 a total of 13 patients received pancreas transplants.

Irish Independent

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