Families are being urged to talk to their relatives about organ donation. October 9th is European Day for Organ Donation and for the HSE’s Dr Catherine Motherway, it is a conversation everyone should have with a loved one at some point.
“I’m pretty confident my husband would know I want to be an organ donor,” Dr Motherway told Newstalk.
“But for a lot of people they don’t think of it. It doesn’t enter their level of consciousness. So if they’re listening to this conversation; if it’s something that you think would be a good thing to do in the event of your untimely death, then just tell whoever your next of kin is.
“And God forbid, something horrendous should happen, [but] they will know and be able to honour your wishes.”
As well as serving as the HSE’s clinical lead for organ donation, Dr Motherway works as an ICU Consultant at University Hospital Limerick. She believes that telling a relative what you want can help them avoid stress and upset if something should happen to you.
“You’re sitting there as a relative in the ICU of someone who is dying - and I’ve been that person - and your life has stopped, everything else has ceased, and then someone like me comes and says, ‘What would whoever that person’s name is have wanted?’
“And if they have already told you, in a passing conversation, it may be a number of years back, at least you know what they want.”
“And it can help them because it’s really, really difficult to lose somebody who is young suddenly.”
In 2020 there were 590 people in Ireland waiting for an organ transplant, while an average of 30 people die every year before they receive one.
Organ donors can save up to eight lives and those who donate tissue can save or improve the lives of up to 100 people.
In 2019 the Irish Cabinet gave its approval to the principle of an opt-out organ donation scheme. Such a system would mean that consent would be assumed for organ donation, unless the individual opted out whilst alive.
Main image: A hospital bed in Liverpool, England. Picture by: Lynne Cameron/PA