The Irish Kidney Association (IKA) looks forward to celebrating the annual Organ Donor Awareness Week 2021 with many public sites around the country being lit up in green from Saturday, March 27 until Saturday, April 3, 2021.
Whilst many things have been put on pause during the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for organ donation and transplantation continues. Despite the unprecedented challenges which the pandemic has presented, organ transplants have continued thanks to organ donors and their families and also the dedicated transplant teams in our transplanting hospitals, Beaumont, St. Vincent’s, The Mater and Temple Street.
At any one time in Ireland there are between 550 and 600 people on waiting lists for organ transplants including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas. There was a fall in the number of transplants in 2020 across all the national transplant programmes. Whilst 190 transplants carried out were 84 less than in 2019, the thoughtfulness of the 62 deceased donors (last year) in these very challenging times is inspiring. Link to Organ Donation Transplant Ireland (ODTI) end of year 2020 figures
Speaking at the national launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week, Ms. Carol Moore, Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association said, “Sadly Covid-19 had and continues to have a serious unwelcome impact on the transplant community. Initial medical advice was to cocoon. Suddenly people previously leading a normal life, can no longer attend work or socialise. There was fear and anxiety about the risks amongst patients attending hospitals. This has also been a significant impact on people’s mental health[i]. A number of people in the dialysis and transplant community died with Covid-19, and we would like to express our deep sympathies to their families.”
“A year ago, the 2020 Organ Donor Awareness Week campaign was postponed and ultimately cancelled at short notice when Covid-19 reached our shores. This impacted on the Irish Kidney Association’s ability ‘on the ground’ to promote organ donor awareness and the annual Awareness Week campaign. With Covid-19 still a reality, we have adapted with new ideas for the 2021 awareness campaign.”
“The Irish Kidney Association is delighted to announce that, for the very first time, demonstrating nationwide solidarity in support of organ donation, many County and City Councils around the country will light up public sites in green throughout the week-long campaign. Green is the internationally recognised colour which celebrates organ and tissue donation.”
“Patients on transplant waiting lists live in hope that organs will become available to them. Whilst there is hope it is also a difficult time as their future is uncertain and they know that another family is grieving the loss of a loved one. By lighting up public sites in green we are drawing attention to organ donation being an integral part of active citizenship on the part of the public. From dusk to dawn, over 40 public sites will be lit up in green, undoubtedly prompting much discussion around organ donation.” Sites listed on www.ika.ie/donorweek2021
This year’s awareness campaign is built around the theme #Life is a Gift Pass it On and Share your Wishes. The key message is that the public can play their part in supporting organ donation for transplantation by ensuring that their families know their wishes. i.e., have the conversation #have the chat
The words #Life is a Gift, Pass it On represent the transient beauty of the ‘gift of life’ underpinned by the selfless generosity of the human spirit. Share Your Wishes represents the importance of discussion with loved ones about organ donation and sharing your wishes is the cornerstone of the campaign.
The campaign’s posters, which are available in three languages, English, Irish and Polish, include photos of 32 grateful transplant recipients (including heart, lung, liver kidney and pancreas) who between them are enjoying over 400 years of extra life selflessly gifted to them by the families of deceased donors. All posters are available digitally and can be downloaded from the IKA’s website www.ika.ie/donorweek2021.
During Organ Donor Awareness Week, the Irish Kidney Association will be actively posting messages about organ donation through their various social media channels encouraging the public to share these with their friends to get the country having the organ donation conversation.
There will be an inspiring series of videos also released during the week. Well-known personalities and Irish diaspora based around the world, (including New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, America, Europe and South Africa), who have been touched by organ donation, have lent their support in a series of videos’ chains sharing the Life is a Gift Pass it On message while passing on the organ donor card. The Diaspora videos’ chain can be seen in the following link https://youtu.be/ pUnuS4MNnmM
The talented and widely acclaimed actress and singer Angeline Ball is lending her support to this initiative as it is a cause close to her heart. Her niece Saoirse Perry underwent a liver transplant and Saoirse, is leading a chain of videos of Irish speakers sharing the Life is a Gift message ‘as gaeilge’. Former ambassadors for organ donor awareness, who will also feature on video promoting Life is a Gift, Pass it On, including Mary Kennedy, Ray D’Arcy, and donor family, Derry and Sallyanne Clarke, living kidney donors Vivienne Traynor and Jarlath Regan are also featured in a video chain passing on the organ donor card and the key message. Jarlath will also be dedicating one of his ‘An Irishman Abroad’ podcasts to organ donation during Awareness Week.
The Irish Kidney Association is encouraging the wider public to show their support for the campaign by organising their own socially distanced awareness activities and challenges.
Individuals who wish to support organ donation are encouraged to keep the reminders of their decision available by carrying the organ donor card, permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licence and having the ‘digital organ donor card’ APP on their smartphone. Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a- donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.
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