Written Answers. - Transplant Unit.

Noel Dempsey

Question:

77 Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, he has for the provision of a heart and lung transplant unit in view of the relatively high donor rate in this State in comparison to that of Europe and in view of the recent technological advances and improved outlook for the treatment of a number of diseases such as cystic fibrosis. [9302/97]

Limerick East): The Mater Hospital has submitted an outline preliminary proposal for a lung and heart-lung transplantation programme. The cost of the proposal from the Mater Hospital which would include additional cardiac surgery is: capital cost, £2.6 million; revenue cost, £2.4 million per annum.

This would involve the employment of an additional 45 staff. In addition, the Mater Hospital has informed my Department that it considers that it would be uneconomic to initiate a lung and heart-lung transplantation programme on its own without incorporating extra open heart surgery.

The establishment of a successful transplant programme for any speciality is an extremely complex and difficult task. It is essential to have appropriately trained staff, suitable infrastructure and a multi disciplinary approach to ensure successful outcomes. The Department's recent experience with the successful liver transplant programme bears this out.

I am aware of the difficulties being experienced by patients requiring lung or heart-lung transplants. I am considering the issues involved with a view to alleviating the difficulties for these patients, both in the short and long-term. In the light of the experience gained in establishing the liver transplant programme, is it likely that a phased approach will be adopted, recognising the need to build expertise and to create a programme that is viable in terms of the outcomes for patients.