Final arrangements are being put in place to facilitate the commencement of the surgical component of the lung transplant programme in the near future. Considerable preparatory work has already been completed including the provision of appropriate assessment facilities required to support the development of the service and the appointment of key transplant personnel at the Mater Hospital, Dublin. It has been designated as the surgical site. This year Revenue funding of €7.9 million was provided to support the programme. The transplant unit at the Mater hospital expects to be on-call for its first lung transplant from 1 April.
Ireland has traditionally had a high rate of organ donation. Part of it is due to the annual donor awareness campaign. It is promoted by the Irish Kidney Association on behalf of the Irish Donor Network and supported by my Department.
International experience has shown that the rate of lung donation is likely to increase with the inception of a national programme. The proximity and interaction of the retrieval and transplant teams has also been shown to maximise the retrieval rate.
In the near future I shall establish an expert group to examine organ donation, procurement and utilisation policy in Ireland. It will be done as part of the national health strategy's commitment to develop organ transplantation services with a view to increasing donation and utilisation rates. In April the Irish Transplantation Society, in conjunction with the Irish Nephrological Society, is organising a consensus conference to discuss the issues associated with a living donor transplantation programme.