Dáil Éireann - Volume 461 - 08 February, 1996
Written Answers. - Lung Transplants.
Mr. Bell Mr. Bell
 7. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that vital organ transplantation is available in Ireland for all patients requiring necessary life saving transplant operations, with the whole exception of lung transplantation; if he will agree that this causes great hardship to Irish patients awaiting lung transplant —particularly those with cystic fibrosis; if he will further agree that reliance on transplant centres in the United Kingdom involves very inconvenient and repeated visits to transplant centres for both patient and accompanying family members; if he further will agree that the number of adult patients transplanted has only been a tiny fraction of those who have travelled back and forth to the United Kingdom for assessment; the plans, if any, he has to provide lung transplantation services in Ireland to cater for increasing numbers of patients who will require lung transplant each year, approximately 10 per annum, in view of the fact that the expertise to carry out these procedures is available in the Mater Hospital, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1662/96]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East) Michael Noonan
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): I am aware of difficulties being experienced by patients requiring lung and heart/lung transplants. These difficulties are caused by the lack of suitable matched donor organs and also due to the fact that we do not have a lung and heart/lung transplant programme in this country. The establishment of a successful transplant programme for any speciality is an extremely complex and difficult task. It is essential to have appropriately trained staff, suitable infrastructure and a multi disciplinary approach to ensure successful outcomes. The Department's recent experience with the successful liver transplant programme and it's establishment in Ireland bears this out.
I would like to clear up some misunderstandings in regard to the question  of expertise being available to carry out lung and heart/lung transplantation at the Mater Hospital in Dublin. My Department has been in discussion with the Mater Hospital for some time on the question of the possible development of a lung and heart/lung transplation programme in this country.
The Mater Hospital has recently informed my Department that it considers that it would be uneconomic to initiate a lung and heart/lung transplation programme on its own without incorporating extra routine open heart cases. The Mater Hospital has submitted an outline preliminary proposal on that basis.
The cost of the proposal from the Mater Hospital which would include additional cardiac surgery activity is capital cost, £2.6 million; revenue cost £2.4 million per annum. This would involve the employment of an additional 45 staff.
The Mater Hospital submission does not deal in a comprehensive way with the complex medical matters such as proposals for pre-operative assessment and arrangements for the post operative management of patients. My Department has asked the Mater Hospital for more information on a number of issues and on receipt of this information will consider the proposals further. My Department will be meeting the Cystic Fibrosis Association next week to continue discussions in this area.
Dáil Éireann 461 Written Answers. Lung Transplants.