The Irish Kidney Association’s Organ Donor Awareness Week takes place from March 30th – April 6th.
SINCE its foundation in 1978, the Irish Kidney Association has been raising awareness of organ donation and encouraging people to consider becoming an organ donor.
The primary role of the Irish Kidney Association is to support patients with end stage kidney disease who are either being treated by dialysis or have a working kidney transplant.
By providing information on kidney diseases, associated medical scenarios and social benefits and entitlements, the Irish Kidney Association helps patients and families live as normal a life as possible.
Organ Donor Awareness Week, which takes place March 30th – April 6th, is the Irish Kidney Association’s flagship awareness week but also a chance to generate much needed funds.
Volunteers will be present at outlets throughout Waterford selling forget-me-nots and other merchandise.
Chairman of the Waterford Irish Kidney Association branch Ray Halligan outlined the importance of Organ Donor Awareness Week. “It’s about getting awareness out there and encouraging people to become an organ donor,” he explained. “Funding from government has been greatly reduced year on year. 78 per cent of our current funding comes from the generosity of the public.” The Irish Kidney Association, which was founded by a group of dialysis patients, celebrated 40 years in existence last year.The Waterford branch has been in existence around 25 years. As part of their awareness campaign, local members have visited local schools including St Paul’s, Presentation and the Mercy to speak to Transition Year students about the importance of becoming an organ donor and to highlight the work of the Irish Kidney Association.
There are over 600 in Ireland people currently waiting for an organ transplant.
In 2017, there were a record number of transplants at 308 – however that number dropped to 231 last year. These include heart, lung, liver and pancreas transplants but the vast majority were kidney transplants. Ray believes there is a need for a wider conversation around Organ Donor Awareness Week. “We need organ donors and we need people to consider organ donation. People should discuss the issue with their family,” he said.“There is increased awareness but it’s important to keep the message out there that organ donation does work and that recipients can come back to full health.”
Ray began his involvement with the Irish Kidney Association while he was a dialysis patient.
In 1995, he was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease.He managed to live a normal life with the condition, however, in 2007 his kidney function began to deteriorate and he had to undergo dialysis three times a week for four hour sessions. Ray can vividly recall the moment in June 2010 when he was eventually informed that he would receive a transplant.After receiving the call, he headed straight to Beaumont Hospital for the long awaited transplant which took place later that day. Ray explained that he felt a mixture of emotions as he prepared to undergo his kidney transplant.While he was being given the gift of life, he was receiving an organ from the family of somebody who had died.
As part of Organ Donor Awareness Week, members of the public are being encouraged to carry an organ donor card in order to show their commitment to organ donation.