People awaiting kidney transplants have expressed concerns that no date has yet been given as to when the surgeries, which were paused because of the coronavirus, will resume.

The transplant programme was halted last month because of the risks of Covid-19, which the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) has said is disappointing but understandable.

Its chief executive Mark Murphy has said it's a very difficult time for those waiting for transplants and they are now in limbo because they don't know when normal service will resume.

Professor Jim Egan, director of Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland, said the situation is reviewed weekly but as of yet no date can yet be given as to when normal service will resume.

He said he understands the frustrations for patients but said ensuring transplants are carried out safely is the key priority.

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Patients have been told the intense workload in hospitals, including in the Intensive Care Units, as well as the risk of transplant patients getting a serious infection, are among the reasons why the decision to pause the programme was made.

Prof Egan said urgent heart and liver transplants can still be performed.

Those awaiting a kidney transplant have been told a very limited number of transplant surgeries will take place and that normal transplant activity will only proceed when it's deemed safe to do so.

According to the IKA, around 400 people are currently waiting for a kidney transplant. It said in the normal course of events, an average of 10 kidney transplants are carried out each month.

Last year 158 such surgeries took place. Among those waiting for a transplant is Eoin Madden from Athenry, Galway who's been on the waiting list for three years.

He said it was a sad day when he was told about the interruption. Mr Madden said he understands completely why the decision was taken but it means his struggle on dialysis will go on for longer.

Mr Madden, a father of three children, said he is very concerned by the fact that's there's no clear date as to when the service will resume and is worried it could take six months to a year.

He hoped the programme will be given priority to reopen as quickly as possible.

The IT worker, who is in his 40s, also urged people who are now spending lots of time with their families to discuss organ donation with them an effort to get more people signed up to carry an organ donor card.

The IKA has echoed that call but explained applications cannot be fully processed at this time because of work restrictions but will resume when its office is back up and running.