More than 200 Canadians died last year waiting for an organ transplant: report

Dec 5 2019, 1:04 pm

A new report says that despite a slight increase in transplants over the last decade, Canada still has a shortage of organs for donation.

The report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) says Canada’s organ supply hasn’t been meeting demand — costing people their lives while they wait.

“In 2018, there were 2,782 organ transplant procedures performed in Canada,” says the report.

The number of transplant procedures completed last year are 33% higher than those in 2009, but the CIHI says there is still a ways to go, given that 223 people died last year while on a wait list.

“More than 4,000 Canadians are still on a waiting list for a transplant, and many die each year while waiting,” said Greg Webster, CIHI’s director of Acute and Ambulatory Care Information Services.

“We know that organ transplants save lives. For most organs, patient survival is greater than 80% after five years,” said Webster.

At the end of 2018, there were 4,351 people on wait lists for organ transplants — 2,890 active and 1,461 on hold (meaning that a patient on the transplant wait list cannot receive a transplant for medical or other reasons for a short period of time).

As to what’s driving the increase, the CIHI says the number of Canadians diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease went up 35% over the 10 years studied.

“There were 40,289 Canadians (excluding Quebec) living with end-stage kidney disease at the end of 2018,” nearly 60% of whom were receiving some form of dialysis, says the report.

Last year, kidneys and livers were the top organs transplanted, but they are also the transplants that are highest in demand.

As of December 31, 2018, 3150 patients were on wait lists for kidneys and 527 for livers, compared to 270 patients on the waitlist for lungs, 157 for hearts, and 156 for pancreas transplants.

“Canadian health systems rely on organ donations to help save the lives of those in need,” said the report.

“The release of CIHI’s organ donation data is an important reminder for all Canadians who wish to become donors to register to be an organ donor and to speak to your family about your wishes.”

More information about the Canadian transplant system, and how to register as a donor, can be found on the Canadian Transplant Association website.

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