Lifeline Ambulance Service provides routine and emergency transport on a nationwide basis for organ retrieval teams from the three national transplantation centres
- Mater General – Heart/Lung
- Beaumont Hospital – Kidneys/Pancreas
- St. Vincent’s University Hospital – Liver
Lifeline also transports unaccompanied organs for Irish or UK medical facilities. Ground transport is coordinated with the respective transplant coordinators and may occasionally entail the use of Air Corps helicopter resources for the highly time-sensitive heart and lung organs.
From time to time Lifeline transports organs to main/regional airports for onward transport by air ambulance to the UK. This is usually as a result of a suitable recipient not being available in Ireland.
General Information regarding Organ Donation
Organ Donation: Organ donation and transplantation saves the lives of between 200 and 250 people in Ireland every year. By becoming an organ and/or a tissue donor, you or your loved one could save/enhance the lives of up to 5 people who are in end-stage organ failure.
Becoming an Organ Donor: You can become an organ donor by just telling your family or next-of-kin that you wish to donate your organs after your death. Your family or next-of-kin can, in turn, inform a doctor or another healthcare professional in a hospital if they are asked about your wishes regarding organ donation. Simple ways to indicate your wishes are to carry an organ donor card or to sign the organ donation option on the back of your driving license. Organ donor cards are available from the Irish Donor Network (see below), through the Irish Kidney Association, and in doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies.
You can donate certain organs while you are alive. Living organ donors can donate a kidney. To become a living donor, you must give informed consent. More organs may only be donated after death (that is, kidneys, heart, lungs, pancreas, heart valves, eyes, etc.).
Having a medical condition does not prevent you from becoming a donor (an individual decision will be made by a healthcare professional at the time of your death).
The medical team treating you if you are ill is separate from the transplant team. Organs are only removed when 2 doctors, working independently, have certified that the person is dead following a series of strict tests.
It is important to know that the removal of organs is carried out with the same care and respect as any other operation. Organ donation does not disfigure the body or change the way it looks nor does it cause any delay to funeral arrangements.
Signing an organ donor card or a driving license donation option indicates your willingness to have your organs used for transplant. It does not necessarily mean that they will be used. There are various medical criteria and other conditions that must be met. To ensure safe transplantation, the death must take place in a hospital. Your next-of-kin should know of your wish to be an organ donor, but they are not bound to abide by your wishes and their consent is always required.
In all cases, the medical team requests the next-of-kin to donate the organs of a deceased person. In practice, the consent of the next-of-kin is accepted as valid and a refusal by the next-of-kin is not contested.
Children and mentally incapacitated adults: Neither children nor mentally incapacitated adults may give consent to body or organ donation. In practice, parents do give consent to organ donation by their deceased children and this is accepted, but there is no law dealing with the question.
The Irish Donor Network: The Irish Donor Network is a group of individuals and patient associations directly concerned with organ transplantation, donor families and medical coordinators involved in organ and tissue transplantation. Those involved in the Network are:
- Donor families
- The Irish Kidney Association
- The Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association
- The Cystic Fibrosis Association
- The Irish Lung Fibrosis Association
- Alpha One (Anti Trypsin) Foundation
- Liver Transplant Coordinators in St. Vincent’s Hospital
The Irish Donor Network promotes, prints and distributes the Gift of Life Donor Card. By carrying the card and informing your family, you indicate your intention of donating organs and tissue for the purpose of transplantation in the event of your death.
Where To Apply: You can contact any member of the Irish Donor Network for further information or for organ donor cards.
Free text the word ‘Donor’ to 50050 or Lo-call Donor House at the number below.
Irish Donor Network, care ofIrish Kidney Association Donor House