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Pancreas transplant programme now operational 24/7 — SVUH

The national pancreas transplant programme is now operational on a 24/7 basis, a spokesperson for St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH), Dublin, has stated.

As reported in the Medical Independent (MI) in September, 12 potential pancreas donations did not proceed in an eight-month period due to manpower deficits in organ donation and transplantation. In June, MI revealed that pancreas transplant surgery was only taking place Monday-to-Friday.

In November, the board of the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) wrote to SVUH CEO Ms Kay Connolly to express its “grave concern” at media reports on potential pancreas transplants not proceeding, due to the restricted hours of the service. 

The correspondence was copied to outgoing Minister for Health Simon Harris and obtained from the Department under Freedom of Information law.

“Given that there are upwards of 16 patients currently on the list awaiting pancreas and kidney transplant transplants, a number of whom have been waiting for many years, this is a truly alarming situation which has caused great anxiety and adverse comment among our members,” according to the correspondence from the IKA board.

The letter outlined that the kidney, liver, heart and lung transplant programmes were 24/7 services and “we find it difficult to explain to our members why a similar situation does not obtain in respect of pancreas/kidney transplants”.

Last month, a spokesperson for SVUH said there were 22 patients on the active list for a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant and one patient awaiting a pancreas transplant following a kidney transplant. 

“Since the commencement of the service in 2016, one patient who was on the waiting list has died and, respecting patient confidentiality, we cannot give details of their death or its causes.

“It is important to note that patients are not transplanted in order of the sequence that they are added to the waiting list. Priority for transplant is based on clinical fitness to transplant, donor availability and donor-recipient suitability.

“No pancreas is retrieved from a donor and transplanted to a recipient without these criteria being met. Funding received and allocated to the pancreas transplant service is €1.92 million annually 2018-2020.”

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