Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Management & Marketing

First Advisor

Maurice Murphy


There were over 600 patients on the organ waiting list in Ireland in November 2010. This is a substantial increase on the 414 patients on the waiting list in 2008. Ireland also witnessed a dramatic decline in the number of donors from 90 donors in 2009 to 58 donors in 2010. This thesis focuses on investigating the current state of organ donation in the Republic of Ireland, with the eventual goal of recommending alterations to improve the system. In depth- interviews were conducted with eleven leading personnel from the fields of organ donation and social marketing in Ireland as well as abroad. All interviewees reached similar conclusions suggesting that the creation of a proper organ donation infrastructure in Ireland’s health service, as well as the employment of specialist organ donor coordinators is most likely to have the greatest capacity for positively influencing organ donor rates.

The study revealed complete agreement that the enactment of opt-out legislation was not a solution to the decline in donor numbers. The interviewees argued that opt-out legislation is impractical and unnecessary, if the proper support and backing is provided to the organ donation issue by Government. This necessitates the empowerment of the new National Organ Donation and Transplantation Office to train medical personnel on how best to approach the organ donation request, along with training on the correct approach to the next of kin. Donation must be made a natural part of end of life care.

The findings of the study advocate the creation of an organ donor registry, where medical personnel can check if a patient has registered as a donor, in conjunction with the employment of dedicated organ donor coordinators in each of Ireland’s 12 hospitals, who would then be tasked with advancing the organ donation agenda. This will necessitate an increase in funding for the donation and transplantation area but the cost savings of transplantation versus dialysis need to be highlighted to Government and senior managers within the Health Service Executive. The study further argues that more focus should be placed on living donors as a source of organs for those on waiting lists and individual hospitals must be held accountable for their donor referral programmes. With regard to the use of social marketing to change behaviour and increase organ donation, the study found that social marketing is a strategy which must be used to augment the infrastructural and policy improvements implemented by the Health Service Executive and Government. The aim should be to create a moral obligation to become an organ donor in society, among both health care providers and society at large.

Access Level