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Almost 600 people are active on organ transplant waiting lists, according to figures released to the Medical Independent (MI).
Some 519 people are on the list for kidney transplants, 30 people are waiting for a liver transplants, eight people are listed for heart transplants, and 30 for lung transplants.
“Transplant services are to continue,” a HSE spokesperson informed MI in late January. Urgent transplants had proceeded throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, they added.
Liver transplants have taken place utilising theatres at St Vincent’s Private Hospital.
“All transplant programmes are active, and all necessary action is currently being undertaken to ensure that organ transplant and donation services continue in so far as practically possible.
“The HSE would like to remind everyone of the importance of sharing their wishes on organ donation with their families and loved ones as organ donation saves lives.”
Last year, due to factors associated with the pandemic, there was a marked decline in transplantations across the programmes compared with 2019.
There were 123 kidney transplants (vs 153); nine heart transplants (vs 15); 16 lung transplants (vs 38); and 37 liver transplants (vs 66). While there was a small increase in pancreas transplants (five vs two), this programme had declined some potential donations in 2019 due to manpower deficits.
There were 90 donors (62 deceased and 28 living) in 2020, compared with 110 donors in 2019 (85 deceased and 25 living).
Meanwhile, the Executive also confirmed that HSE Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) supports the position of the National Renal Office (NRO) that end-stage kidney disease patients should have higher prioritisation for Covid-19 vaccination.
In particular, the NRO has stated that in-centre haemodialysis patients should be considered on par with the first-ranked priority group (over-65s living in nursing homes). The “provisional vaccine allocation groups”, published on 8 December by the Department of Health, designated “people aged 18-64 with certain medical conditions” as the seventh-placed category.
“The NRO has been in direct communication with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and HSE Acute Operations to endorse the position taken by other international nephrology societies regarding the provision of the Covid-19 vaccine for ‘extremely vulnerable’ renal dialysis and renal transplant patients…Vaccine prioritisation is a matter for the Department of Health,” said the HSE’s spokesperson.
According to provisional data for the end of 2020, there were 2,033 in-centre dialysis patients and 281 dialysis patients on home therapies, giving a total of 2,314 dialysis patients.
The NRO is aware of patients in ICU that are acutely unwell from Covid-19, with kidney injury that “will result in these patients requiring long-term dialysis which will increase patient numbers”.