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The number of living organ donors in Ireland is on the increase according to figures which show 50 people donated an organ last year.
A kidney is the organ most frequently donated by living donors. Partial pancreatic and liver donations are also possible.
There were 32 living donors in 2012. In 2013, there were 38 donors and 40 in 2014, followed by a drop of seven to 33 donations in 2015. Up to the end of June this year, 23 living donors gave an organ.
The number of organ transplants taking place is also on an upward trend, increasing from 238 in 2012 to 280 last year. A total of 124 transplants have been carried out so far this year.
However, the figures show the number of people awaiting organ transplants is still more than double the number of operations carried out.
A total of 573 people were on the waiting list last year and there are 587 people waiting this year.
Minister for Health Simon Harris released the figures in a parliamentary reply to Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly.
Ms O’Reilly described the rise in the number of living donors as good news but said action was required on transplant waiting lists. She called on the Minister to quickly introduce his promised legislation for “soft opt out” system of consent. Under the proposed system, people would be automatically deemed to be an organ donor unless they specifically opt out of the system.
Ms O’Reilly said it was positive, inexpensive and good news legislation and there was no reason to delay. But she said there had to be a “massive” awareness, education and publicity campaign.
Her party will introduce proposals in the autumn to rectify a situation where someone outside the formal economy cannot avail of the tax reliefs open to working donors. She said the relief should apply to every living donor to avoid undue financial hardship for donors, such as parents not working outside the home.
The Dublin Fingal TD highlighted the case of a constituent who donated a kidney to her brother. A stay-at-home mother, she had to pay €2,500 for childcare for her three children for six weeks.
Ms O’Reilly said the woman’s husband would have received the tax relief had he been the donor. “Whether it cost her €2,500 or €2.5 million, it was her brother so she would have donated the kidney.”
But she should not have endured a financial hardship “because of the good thing she was doing”.