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Call for all-Ireland approach to Organ Transplants

2 August, 2007

Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle, Raymond McCartney, has today called for a coordinated approach on the issue of organ transplants within the context of the all-Ireland agenda.

Mr. McCartney said:

'I was contacted by a constituent last week who has been on the waiting list for a liver transplant for two and a half years.

"Traditionally people from Ireland awaiting transplant were treated on the British transplant list but with the advent of modern medicine transplant operations are now being carried out in Dublin however people in the North are still treated in England or Scotland.

"It is now an emerging opinion that people from the North are disadvantaged on geographical grounds as the medical profession in England are reluctant to call a patient who has to make the journey across the Irish Sea if they are unsure if the organ is 100% compatible due to the high cost of transporting a seriously ill patient time and time again. Many patients in England, Wales and Scotland may be called several times before they get their transplant.

"I would call for an all Ireland approach to the problem and more co-operation between the various transplant agencies. Given the fact that people of the North have full Irish citizenship rights I believe that they too could be treated in Dublin. In addition I feel that traveling to Dublin, rather than England is more cost effective for Irish families and also allows them to have more family support available to them.

"Earlier this week, Caral Ni Chuilín, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson in the Assembly and Caoimhghin O' Caolaín, TD and spokesperson in the Dáil, met in Dundalk to step-up the party's cooperation on All-Ireland health issues. Along with issues such as youth services, mental health and cancer, the issue of transplants will be made a priority by the party."

Mr McCartney added:

"I have written to the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey and the same letter will be forwarded to Mary Harney in the 26 counties to establish what the official response is from both health departments. I await their response as this issue is central to the length and quality of people's lives and must be treated as an urgent issue in order to provide the best service possible for people on the island of Ireland.

"I will also be writing to our MEP's Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald with a view of supporting a motion by EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou who has proposed a European Donor Card System. If this were to be implemented then there would be enough organs to match those awaiting transplant." ENDS

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