Lorna McSwiggan Martin is one of the 650 or so people currently on the organ transplant waiting list.

The nurse, and mother of two, has kidney disease. For her, the pandemic has been spent largely indoors, wary of catching the virus.

'We've been essentially cocooning in the house for the last year and a half to two years. It's been quite tough. There've been times when we would like to go out, go on holiday but [we can't] ...it's just the way it is."

The Dublin woman has been on the waiting list for two years. The weekend news that a transplant was cancelled at the Mater Hospital because there was no ICU bed available has given her an added concern.

"The same thing could happen to me and we just don't know how the situation is going to go. It's just added stress to an already stressful situation," she said.

Ms McSwiggan has received her booster vaccine, and she said that brings some relief. But she is worried the current situation in hospitals and the pressures they are under could mean transplant operations will be suspended.

The Director of Organ Donation and Transplants Ireland described as "very unprecedented" the cancellation of the organ transplant surgery at the Mater, but said ICU bed capacity was the "pinch point".

The hospital said the decision was 'necessary to ensure the safety of the transplant patient involved'

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Professor Jim Egan said the surgery cannot happen unless an ICU bed is available as the patient is immediately transferred from the operating theatre to intensive care.

He said: "We're dealing with an unprecedented surge again of Covid cases and ... ICU bed capacity is the pinch point.

"Regrettably, delivering organ donation and transplant in a Covid pandemic is quite complex because we need to ensure that the transplant proceeds safely and, regrettably, a primary or a new Covid infection in a transplant recipient or a new transplant recipient carries a mortality of approximately 20%."

However, Prof Egan said organ donation and transplant has continued throughout the pandemic and he said he has absolute confidence that everyone is making every effort to deliver these types of services.

"The Covid pandemic has proven to be extremely challenging to deliver these high complex therapies," he said.

There are approximately 650 families awaiting transplant surgery.

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Meanwhile, the chairman of the Irish Lung and Heart Transplant Association has stressed the importance of organ donation.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Robert McCutcheon said that while the decision the Mater Hospital made would have been a "crushing disappointment" for the intended recipient, many factors play a role in any successful transplant surgery.

He said that it would have been a very difficult decision for all involved, including the donor family "who made this decision during a time of grief and personal tragedy".

Mr McCutcheon said that "ultimately organ donation saves lives".

He said he had a heart transplant 14 years ago and remembers the "generosity of my donor and donor family".