A total of 190 organ transplants were performed in Ireland last year, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed.
The majority of the operations (123) were kidney transplants, followed by liver (37), lung (16), heart (9), and pancreas (5).
Ninety donors were involved -- 62 deceased, and 28 living donors.
Speaking at the end of the year, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said organ donation is “among the most selfless gifts we can give another."
“I sincerely thank the families of deceased donors who at a time of great tragedy found the strength to put the needs of others first. I hope they can take some solace in the relief and joy brought to the 190 organ recipients and their families and friends.”
TheJournal.ie reports there were fewer transplants last year than in 2019, when 274 operations were performed.
The health minister said the reduction in the number of transplants in 2020 was partly due to the pandemic, which “made it difficult for hospitals to undertake major surgeries.”
“Organ transplantation involves dealing with very sick people who require lengthy surgery and who need round-the-clock care from our intensive care staff.
“There were 190 transplants carried out in 2020. While the number of transplants is lower than the 274 transplants carried out in 2019, it is still a great achievement given the challenges caused by the pandemic.”
There are around 590 people in Ireland waiting for an organ transplant, according to the HSE. An estimated 30 people die each year while waiting for a transplant.
Donnelly has said he intends to bring the Human Tissue Bill to Cabinet in 2021. The legislation will provide a "soft opt-out," meaning there will be a presumption of consent for organ donation of deceased persons, unless they specifically opt out while still alive, according to The Irish Times.
“I encourage families across the country to have that conversation, discuss their intentions around organ donation and make family members aware of their wishes,” said Donnelly.
Dr. Catherine Motherway, the HSE’s clinical lead on organ donation, expressed gratitude towards the families of deceased donors.
“They, at a time of tragedy and grief through the sudden death of a loved one, have given the gift of life to another person often a stranger and transformed the lives of many families. Their selfless act of generosity is always inspirational and humbling.”