By Lloyd Mudiwa.
A record 165 kidney transplants from deceased donors were made in Ireland last year, but there was a significant decrease in heart transplantations, which the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) said it found “mysterious”.
However, the Mater Hospital immediately said there was no mystery regarding the drop in heart transplantations in Ireland, which the hospital said mirrored the international picture, and could be attributed to the need for a closer match in terms of blood type and physiological characteristics compared to other organs such as kidneys, as well as decreasing rates in heart transplantations owing to medical technological improvements such as in artificial heart devices.
Citing new European figures for 2011, which were released to celebrate European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation on October 13, the IKA said: “The 165 kidney transplants from deceased donors in Ireland last year was a record, and thanks also to a further record of 27 living donor kidney transplants, a total of 192 kidney transplants took place in Ireland. That places Ireland in 12th position in Europe for all kidney transplantation.”
However, Ireland was in a “disappointing” 24th position for heart transplantation after only six heart transplants, according to the Association.
Its Chief Executive, Mark Murphy, commented: “Our low heart transplant rates are a complete mystery to me. We are in 24th place and I would prefer if someone in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital [ which hosts the Irish National Lung and Heart Transplant Programme] could explain to us what could be done there to improve this situation.”
Last week, a spokesperson for the Mater responded: “We are able to say already at this stage of the year the number of heart transplants is 10 — already four more than the whole of last year — so that’s a significant increase on least year.”
The spokesperson further explained that while there was a waiting list of only seven, they all had the same blood type, implying that any hearts donated from outside this blood type group may not be used, and it may be hard to get through that list. “So it’s not really a matter of keeping score,” the spokesperson said.
According to the EU figures, Ireland is also placed in 12th position for pancreas transplantation, slipping from fourth position in 2008. Some eight pancreas transplant operations took place last year.
Ireland also shares 12th position in Europe for liver transplantation after 61 liver transplants, and 15th position for lung transplantation, with eight lung transplants taking place last year.