Record number of organ transplants performed in Ontario last year

Ottawa is a leader in the province when it comes to donating organs

Ottawa Citizen 2 minute read February 12, 2020

A record number of patients received organ transplants in Ontario last year, according to new figures from the Trillium Gift of Life Network.

Health teams performed 1,386 organ transplants and 684 deceased and living patients donated organs, which represents a 13 per cent increase over a year earlier. Both transplants and donations represent new records in the province.

Ronnie Gavsie, CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network, which is in charge of organ donations, partly attributed the increase to technological and medical advances that allow for the transplantation of organs from donors who previously would have been excluded. Such newly available donors accounted for 21 per cent of all organ donors in 2019.

They include donors with hepatitis C who can now safely become part of the pool of potential organ donors. In 2019, there was a 41 per cent increase of donors with hepatitis C compared to a year earlier and a 39 per cent increase in transplants from those donors.

Donations from patients undergoing Medical Assistance in Dying represents a small, but growing portion of organs donated in Ontario, said Gavsie.

Ontario is known as the most proactive jurisdiction in the world in talking with MAiD patients about donating organs, she said.

A provincial policy requiring all hospitals to report potential organ and tissue donation cases to Trillium Gift of Life has contributed to record organ and tissue referrals. In 2019, trained organ and tissue donation coordinators approached 1,341 families about donation after their loved-ones died. Eight hundred and sixteen of those families agreed.

Despite the good news, Ontario patients in need of donated organs continue to die while on waiting lists, said Gavsie. Province-wide, she said, a patient dies almost every three days. In Ottawa, 123 people are on the waitlist for urgent donations.

Ottawa is a leader in the province when it comes to donating organs. Province-wide, 34 per cent of people are registered donors. In Ottawa, 42 per cent of the population has registered to donate.

“Ottawa has a culture of donation,” she said.

In some parts of the world, organ donation is the default. In Ontario, potential donors are asked to register, although not all donors are registered. In the absence of registration, families are asked to consent. In Ontario, 34 per cent of the eligible population, 4.2 million people, are registered.

The Ottawa Hospital has been recognized for being a leader in organ donations.


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