By Kevin Doyle Herald.ie Dublin, Ireland
A WOMAN whose father is waiting on a lung transplant has said all she wants is for him to walk her down the aisle for her upcoming wedding.
Brendan Merry (69) suffers from scarring to his lungs which is crippling the sports fanatic.
After almost two years on the transplant waiting list, and having his hopes dashed on three occasions, he now lives off two separate breathing machines.
Last weekend Brendan was taken back to hospital for treatment relating to his condition.
However, if a suitable lung were available today he could be back playing tennis and golf within months.
His daughter, Suzanne, has now pleaded with Health Minister Mary Harney to fast-track an organ opt-out scheme.
At a meeting with Mary Harney in Leinster House, Suzanne showed the minister a video of her ailing father.
She told the Minister for Health that it should be assumed that everybody wants to donate their organs and potentially save another life, unless they specify otherwise.
"I'm getting married next May and I hope my father gets a lung before then so that he can walk me up the aisle," she told the Herald.
Suzanne and TD Michael Kennedy (FF) handed over a compilation of research based on international studies to Department of Health officials.
On foot of the meeting, Mary Harney has given commitment to starting a period of public consultation on a new organ opt-out system before Christmas.
Once it is completed, the legislation can be brought forward by next spring.
"The amount of people who die while on the waiting list is ridiculous. More people would be alive if more organs were available," noted Suzanne.
Her father fell ill with pulmonary fibrosis in January 2007 and has been on the waiting list for more than a year now.
"He used to be very active and into sports such as tennis, rugby and golf, but now he's very restricted and has to plan ahead on everything.
"There are only two ways for him to get better - take steroids, but he was doing that and deteriorated, so now it must be a lung transplant," explained Suzanne.
"With the trauma our family is going through, obviously we're very much in support of the organ opt-out system."
Under a system of opting out, or presumed consent, every person living in the country is deemed to have given their consent to organ donation unless they have specifically opted out by recording in writing their unwillingness to give organs.
In 2007, there were 141 deceased donor kidney transplants, 59 liver, seven heart and four lung transplants. It is thought that an opt-out system could result in up to 50pc more organs being available.
Speaking about the meeting with the health minister, Dublin North TD Michael Kennedy said: "One point we made is that every hospital needs a donor co-ordinator. Only the Mater Hospital has one at the moment."
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Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves