Claire Byrne is new ambassador for Irish Kidney Association's organ donor awareness campaign

6th March 2018

The Irish Kidney Association, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, is delighted to announce that Claire Byrne has taken up the voluntary role of ambassador for 2018 organ donor awareness. The prolific journalist and national radio and TV broadcaster will front the 2018 Organ Donor Awareness Week campaign (31st March until 7th April) encouraging the public to support organ donation for transplantation.

Claire said, “I was delighted to be invited by the Irish Kidney Association to take up this role, following in the footsteps of previous wonderful national ambassadors, who are all united in the wish to spread the message that organ donation is an important life-saving legacy. As I take up this role, as ambassador, it is heartening to hear reports that last year was a record year for both deceased and living organ donors and subsequent transplant operations. All this good news greatly serves to offer hope to those 550 plus anxious people on the transplant waiting lists. I would encourage everyone to discuss organ donation with their family members. It is an important and potentially life-saving conversation.”

“I have huge admiration for the many organ donor families, who made the selfless decision to donate a family member’s organs at a time of deep grief, and also for living donors who make the conscious decision to donate a kidney. Credit must also go to the skill and dedication of our transplant surgical, medical and nursing teams in our country’s three transplanting hospitals.”

Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association, Mr. Mark Murphy said, “We are delighted that Claire has agreed to be the ambassador for organ donor awareness.  Claire has furrowed a distinguished career as a much-respected current affairs journalist and enjoys household name status. To have such a prolific figure representing the Irish Kidney Association, a registered charity of patients and carers, carries with it huge impetus to the work we have undertaken for 40 years in advocating and caring for our membership, while also being the organisation charged with the promotion and distribution of the organ donor card in Ireland by the HSE through their procurement service, Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI). The organ donor card has developed from what started out as the kidney donor card in the same year our organisation was established in 1978”.

“Claire is giving up her time voluntarily to front the Organ Donor Awareness Week campaign, this Easter, to help us raise awareness, amongst the general public, about the plight of people with organ failure and encourage families to discuss organ donation and consider being a donor in the event of their untimely death.”

The popular broadcaster will feature in radio advertising and on posters as well as attending the national launch of 2018 Organ Donor Awareness Week by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T.D. on Tuesday 27th March.

There are approximately 550 people in Ireland awaiting life-saving heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. Thanks to the gift of organ donation almost 3500 transplanted people in Ireland are enjoying extended life.

The focus of Organ Donor Awareness Week is to raise awareness about the ongoing and ever-increasing demand for organ transplantation which relies on the public for organ donation. Its key message is that families need to talk to each other and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the organ donor card and permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.

Organ Donor Awareness Week also serves as a fundraising exercise for the Irish Kidney Association. Throughout the Week (31st March - 7th April 2018), the Association’s volunteers will be out on the streets, and in shopping centres throughout the country, distributing organ donor cards while selling 'forget-me-not-flower' emblems, brooches, pens and shopping trolley discs. All proceeds will go towards the Irish Kidney Association’s aid for patients on dialysis and those patients fortunate enough to have received a kidney transplant. The Irish Kidney Association’s charitable activities include the provision of a 13-double bedroom, free accommodation facility for patients and their families in the grounds of Beaumont Hospital and holiday centres located in Tramore and Kerry, together with patient advocacy, advice, counselling, financial aid and rehabilitative, health promotion through sport and the provision of kidney patient information and education through its head office in Dublin and its 25 branch network of volunteers throughout the country.

Free information fact files, which accompany organ donor cards, are obtainable from the Irish Kidney Association and are available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries and Citizen Information Offices.

Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association tel. 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie/card     

-Ends-

For further information contact: Gwen O’Donoghue, Connect Communications, mob. 086 8241447 email gwenodonoghue1@gmail.com

Mark Murphy, CEO, Irish Kidney Association, Tel 01 6205306 mob. 087 2571235 email markmurphy@ika.ie

Last updated on: 06 / 03 / 2018