This week is Organ Donor Awareness Week and everybody in Co. Roscommon is urged to get a donor card this week and make a difference to the many people currently waiting on transplants. The awareness week campaign in Roscommon was launched by Frank Feighan TD at a function in Gleeson’s, Roscommon, on Saturday last. Organ Donor Awareness Week 2008 runs from March 29th to April 5th. Speaking at the Roscommon launch, Alison Larkin, National Development Officer with the Irish Kidney Association said, ‘It is now 30 years since the inaugural meeting of the association in 1978, in Jervis Street Hospital. The catalyst, back then, was the need for a unified approach to educate the public about organ donation. ‘We remain convinced that patients, leading the public call for organ donors, is by far and away the most successful, clever and cost effective way to inform the public to consent to donate organs. We need the public to realise that their cooperation is central to organ donation. ‘This Organ Donor Card carrying co-op, of the Irish population, realises that they are three times more likely to need an organ transplant, in their lifetime, than they are ever likely to die in the precise circumstances required to be a suitable organ donor. Signing the Donor Card, after discussing with your family, is the cooperation we are asking for today. We need everyone in the population to join this co-op.’ ‘2007 was a mixed year for Organ Transplants. We had an ‘above average’ year for organ donors with 88 families who gave the ‘gift of life’ from their loved ones. Seven of the donors were not of Irish origin, which reflects our now multicultural society. ‘This generosity of the 88 donors and their families transferred into 141 deceased donor kidney transplants, 59 liver, seven heart and four lung transplants. There were five pancreas transplanted simultaneously with a kidney transplant. Two of the liver transplants were also conducted simultaneously with a kidney transplant. Five more kidney transplants were conducted via living donors making a total of 146 kidney transplants in Ireland in 2007, the same numbers as 2006. ‘The liver transplant numbers were down slightly by six on the previous year. This is after three successive record-breaking years of liver transplantation. St. Vincent’s are to be congratulated for reaching the milestone of its 500th liver transplant during the course of 2007. Heart transplantation at seven, was half of the 2006 figure and lungs went from nine in 2006 – to four in 2007. Heart and lungs are the most difficult organs to match. ‘There are now 1,540 people on dialysis around the country and the 600 people waiting for the various Transplant Coordinators’ phone call are waiting longer than they ever had to. Sadly, many will not live to receive this phone call. Transplantable people are dying whilst waiting on all the transplant pools. Some of these people especially on the lung transplant pool are very young adults. The harsh reality is that we need this awareness campaign to work – better than it ever has – for these very people,’ concluded Ms. Larkin. Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word Donor to 50050.