Calling it a “selfless act,” BC’s Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that the number of people who received an organ transplant thanks to donors in BC last year reached an all-time high of 502.
“This record number of transplants is a testament to the spirit of our residents, who gave the greatest gift of all last year: the chance at a new life for others,” said Dix.
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The Health Minister’s office said that with 122 deceased donors in 2018, “we exceeded by one our record pace of 2017.” This, they said, translates into a deceased donor rate of 24.9 per million people – an increase of 71% compared to five years ago.
The office also noted that while there are a number of important factors driving the continued growth of organ donation and transplantation in BC, hospital-based critical care teams play a key role by identifying potential organ donors. There were 512 hospital referrals to the 24/7 BC Transplant clinical referral line in 2018, nearly triple the numbers from five years ago.
“This demonstrates the shift in our culture to fully support organ donation as a normal end-of-life option,” the ministry said.
At the same time, the expansion of donation after circulatory death (DCD) has also been significant. More than a third of deceased donors last year were DCD, with 13 participating hospital sites around the province.
“It takes an incredible team effort to make organ donation happen,” said Dr. Sean Keenan, BC Transplant’s medical director of Organ Donation Services. “Once a family selflessly consents to organ donation on behalf of their loved one, upwards of 100 people are initially involved for each organ donor and transplant recipient.”
New kidney transplant milestone
A new kidney transplant milestone was also reached last year with 339 transplants.
The government said a large part of that is due to BC’s continued focus on living kidney donation – 100 living donors in 2018 — in combination with a coordinated shift towards pre-emptive kidney transplants before a patient needs dialysis.
Corey Nislow is one of those living kidney donors. The UBC professor donated to a complete stranger in 2018.
“Donating a kidney has had a very positive impact on my quality of life, from an emotional point of view,” said Nislow. “It’s something I am very proud to have done, it makes me feel good.”
There were also 28 heart transplants in 2018 (tying the record set in 2016), 50 lung transplants and 77 liver transplants.
Over 1.35 million British Columbians are currently registered to be an organ donor and as of January 1, 2019, 669 people are still waiting for an organ transplant in the province.
As such, the ministry is continuing to encourage people to register their own decision about organ donation and share their wishes with their loved ones.
How to register to be an organ donor:
- Have your BC Personal Health Number (PHN) ready. You will need this to register or verify your decision.
- Verify: You may have already registered your decision for organ donation, so it’s good to double-check. You can verify using your Personal Health Number (PHN) on the online tool.
- Not registered? Complete your registration using this electronic form.
- Tell your family: Once you’ve registered your decision, have a conversation with your family. As much as it’s important to officially register your decision, it’s also important to have a conversation with your loved ones about organ donation and your wishes.
Anyone who has trouble registering their decision is advised to call Transplant BC’s head office at 604-877-2240 or 1.800.663.6189. More information is also available on Transplant BC’s website.