By Lloyd Mudiwa.
There is a lack of “detailed knowledge” on organ donation and transplantation in general practice, which may be reflective of the entire population, researchers at St Vincent’s University Hospital have said.
This follows the results of their survey — published in the Irish Medical Journal — of 200 GPs working in Ireland, which revealed that a minority provided donor cards (38 per cent) or displayed information regarding organ donation (28.2 per cent).
Dr Frank Ward and consultant nephrologists Prof Alan Watson and Dr John Holian found that although 81.3 per cent felt comfortable discussing organ donation, just 4.8 per cent broached the subject with their patients or asked them to discuss the issue with their families.
Of the 200 GPs, some 88.7 per cent could not remember any instance of a patient asking for counselling regarding organ donation in the previous three months. The three doctors found that 31.7 per cent, 24.1 per cent and 34.4 per cent felt informed to advise patients on organ procurement, living donation or immunosuppression medications, respectively.
They said: “There is a lack of focus and detailed knowledge on organ donation and transplantation at the level of primary healthcare, which may likely be representative of the national attitude towards organ donation. We identified a lack of dialogue and unfamiliarity in primary healthcare regarding organ donation, which may be targeted to increase organ donation rates.”
They concluded: “It is going to take a significant paradigm shift and investment in education for both healthcare providers and the general population in order for Ireland to match the deceased organ donation rates of the top European countries, and ensure that more of our patients receive the optimal treatment for ESKD [end-stage kidney disease].”
Consistent public awareness programmes, backed up by an informed primary care community who feel at ease discussing and promoting the fundamental principles of organ donation with potential donors and their families, are critical parts of a multifaceted programme aimed at improving organ donation rates in this country, they recommended.