Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Dáil Eireann Debate
258. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Health and Children when a lung transplant facility as sought by the Cystic Fibrosis Association and as promised in the 1997 Fianna Fáil manifesto will be operational. [17884/02]
342. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which facilities in respect of heart and lung transplants are likely to be improved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18399/02]
The provision of a lung transplant unit at the Mater Hospital forms part of a major capital development approved for the hospital. I am pleased to report that considerable preparatory work has already been completed ahead of the commencement of lung transplantation in Ireland. The final report of the expert consultative group, established to advise my Department on the many issues associated with the development of this complex programme, was received in recent weeks by my Department from the Eastern Regional Health Authority. This submission is being examined as a priority within my Department.
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that revenue funding in excess of €3 million has already been provided to support the enhancement of lung transplant services for Irish patients, including the appointment of key transplant personnel to this new programme.
In terms of the timescale for the introduction of the programme, I am advised that the Mater Hospital proposes to commence lung transplantation over the coming weeks. The resource requirements for the programme are being progressed in the context of the 2003 Estimates process.
Pending the establishment of lung transplantation in this country, an agreement is in place with the Freeman Hospital in the UK for the treatment of Irish patients. To date 24 patients from this country have received a transplant at the Freeman Hospital under the agreement. This contract will continue while the necessary arrangements are being progressed in terms of establishing the programme in Ireland.
Finally, it is also important to note that lungs donated in Ireland have been retrieved by the medical team at Newcastle and have helped to facilitate this additional transplant work at Newcastle for the benefit of Irish patients.
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