Sign up now for ease of access to The Medical Independent, Ireland’s most frequently published medical newspaper, delivering award-winning news and investigative reporting.

  • receive the eCopy two days prior to the printed edition.
  • can partake in our online MCQs.
  • can enter our online sports quiz. is Ireland's only investigative medical news website for doctors, healthcare professionals and anyone with an interest in health issues.

Established in 2010, along with its sister publication The Medical Independent, our stated aim is to investigate and analyse the major issues affecting healthcare and the medical profession in Ireland. The Medical Independent has won a number of awards for its investigative journalism, and its stories are frequently picked up by national digital, broadcast and print media. The Medical Independent is published by GreenCross Publishing.

Address: Top Floor, 111 Rathmines Road Lr, Dublin 6

Tel: 353 (01) 441 0024

GreenCross Publishing is owned by Graham Cooke.

Heart transplant director warned air support deficiency put patients at risk

By Mindo - 03rd Apr 2019 | 10 views

Insufficient air support for organ transport has put patients at risk of missing out on heart transplants, the Director of the National Heart/Lung Transplant Programme warned in correspondence to the HSE in August and September 2018, seen by the Medical Independent under Freedom of Information law.

On 26 September, Mr Lars Nolke informed the Director of HSE Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) Prof Jim Egan, “we are vulnerable in terms of access to air support for heart retrieval and there is a possibility that a heart transplant may have to be cancelled because of no air transport”.

In correspondence to Prof Egan, dated 29 August, Mr Nolke said air support put in place for patients travelling to the UK for transplants was potentially available for organ transport in Ireland. However, this “could be pulled at any time if a transplant were to happen in the UK for an Irish patient”. A meeting had taken place with the HSE, where it was agreed to develop a plan for hospitals requiring air support, wrote Mr Nolke.

He was responding to correspondence from Prof Egan, who requested feedback regarding a meeting on these issues between the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and HSE National Ambulance Service. 

Last week, a Mater spokesperson said air support was accessed via the HSE. The Mater used private transport when the service was not available and this had increased in the past year. The spokesperson added that other “solutions” were being examined.

The process for transport of heart donations was discussed “under an adverse event” at the National Organ Donation and Transplant Advisory Group, Prof Egan informed the Chair of the National Aeromedical Co-ordination Group (NACG) Dr Cathal O’Donnell on 26 June. 

Prof Egan referred to a lack of structure regarding “consistency of availability of transport” and how this is funded. He advised that Dr O’Donnell host a meeting to address this issue with stakeholders. Among those cc-ed was Ms Angela Fitzgerald, currently interim head of HSE acute services.

On 27 July, Dr O’Donnell advised that the NACG oversaw transplant patient transfers and not that of organs.

In May, in a reply to ODTI, Dr O’Donnell said availability of the Air Corps and Coast Guard had “reduced significantly in recent times” and access had always been on an “as-available basis”.

Leave a Reply

Latest Issue
medical news
The Medical Independent 19th May 2022

You need to be logged in to access this content. Please login or sign up using the links below.

Most Read