In general organs are suitable for transplantation if the person dies between the ages of 1 and 75 years. It is desirable that the person is free of significant and relevant general disease such as cancer, serious high blood pressure or, of course, any organ disease. The usual circumstances are a sudden loss of consciousness such as may occur with a head injury, brain haemorrhage or brain tumour. The person must be alive when he reaches hospital and in these circumstances he usually requires artificial breathing support. If further deterioration of the patient’s condition occurs and the brain actually dies, it is apparent that the whole person is dead even thought artificial ventilation is continued. The next of kin’s permission is then sought to remove the organs for transplantation before the body is prepared for burial. The fact of death of the brain is determined by the patient’s own doctors (not by any member of the Transplant Team) and it is helpful at this stage if the patient’s next of kin indicates to the doctor in charge that the patient wished his organs to be taken in these circumstances. The kidneys are removed by the Transplant Team from Beaumont Hospital, Dublin where the operations are performed. The heart may be taken by the transplant team from the Mater Hospital and liver by a team from St. Vincents Hospital or by visiting UK teams. Eye donation is a more simple procedure and details may be obtained from the Eye Bank at Pelican House, Dublin. Only when no suitable Irish recipients are identified are the organs retrieved for identified recipients in the UK.
Leaders of all Christian and Jewish communities support organ donation as the greatest gift man can give to man. Hindu and Sikh have no objections either.
What happens regarding organ donation if the donor dies in a country hospital, distant from the major medical centre where transplantation operations are carried out?
This will not necessarily prevent use of the organs for transplantation. Donor organs can be preserved for sufficient time for them to be transported to the transplantation centre.
Simply sign a Donor Card and request your next of kin to sign it also indicating their willingness to honour your wishes. You may choose which organs you wish to donate. CARRY YOUR CARD WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES, so that in event of sudden untimely death you wishes become known immediately. Organs are only taken from those who die in hospital, usually following admission in an emergency.
No. But only entirely healthy organs are acceptable for transplantation.
Donation is carried out in the hospital in which the patient dies. After the death of the donor, the organs are removed in an operating theatre, with precisely the same care as in any other surgical procedure.
Removal of organs and/or tissues authorised by a donor will not interfere with customary funeral or burial arrangements. These remain in the responsibality of relatives or persons in charge of estate.
Inform your family and tear up your card.
Apply to the Irish Kidney Association at:
Irish Kidney Association
or ask your local pharmacy/medical centre.