— A 25 per cent increase in deceased organ donors helped save a record-breaking 479 lives in 2017.
This significant growth is thanks to a concentrated effort on the part of health care teams in the province's hospitals to identify potential donors and support families in choosing organ donation.
In 2017, BC's deceased donor rate increased to 24.9 per million people, up from the 2016 rate of 20.3. This maintains BC as one of the leading provinces in Canada for deceased donation, in addition to being a leader for living kidney donation.
The increase in donors contributed to a 13 per cent increase in total transplants to 479, and a 30 per cent increase in both deceased donor kidney transplants (225) and lung transplants (52) in 2017. There was also an eight per cent increase in liver transplants, resulting in a record number of 80. In addition to deceased donation, 97 living kidney donor transplants were performed in 2017.
"More lives are being saved thanks to life-saving transplants than ever before," says Dr. David Landsberg, BC Transplant's Provincial Medical Director, Transplant Services. "This is a result of system changes we've made over the past few years that are now having an impact, but also a shift in our culture to one that fully supports organ donation as a normal end-of-life option."
"We've had a dramatic increase in lung transplants in British Columbia," says Dr. John Yee, Medical Director of the BC Lung Transplant Program, who remembers a time when there was just one lung transplant in a year, compared to the 52 performed in 2017.
"There are many factors that have affected this increase; there is a greater availability of organs, there's more awareness that lung transplants are a viable option for people with end-stage lung failure, and we've built a well-trained and experienced multi-disciplinary team that can manage the demand while achieving excellent health results for our patients."
The gift of life is something that Alison Snowden knows very well after being one of the 52 British Columbians who received new lungs in 2017.
"One day I was a healthy person and the next, doctors told my family that my lungs were destroyed," says Alison. A rare disease meant that unless Alison received a new pair of lungs soon, she wouldn't survive. "I'm so thankful to my donor for this gift of life. You never think something like this is going to happen to you until it does. A transplant saved my life."
The province's strategic and systems-focused approach to organ donation is saving more lives through the following:
- The establishment of hospital-based critical care teams of physicians and donation coordinators who support families and staff with organ donation—resulting in a 40 per cent increase in hospital referrals of potential donors to BC Transplant over the last two years.
- Expanding organ donation options at the hospital level, with the addition of two hospitals capable of offering donation after cardio-circulatory death.
- A supported shift to a culture in health care that supports organ donation as a normal end-of-life option.
- Increasing public awareness of the need and value of organ donation.
As of January 1, 2018, 638 people were still waiting for an organ transplant in BC, and the need remains strong. British Columbians are encouraged to register their own decision about organ donation, and share their wishes with their family. For more information, visit transplant.bc.ca.
*Two additional living donors from out of province contributed to 97 living kidney transplants in 2017.
*Includes Providence Health
|Kidney - living donor||97||95||110||104||127||83|
|Kidney - deceased donor||225||173||161||101||107||111|
|Liver - living donor||0||0||3||3||3||7|
|Liver - deceased donor||80||74||76||60||58||58|
|Pancreas, pancreas/islet, pancreas/kidney||5||12||15||12||7||6|
|Transplant recipients followed in BC|| 4,556||4,349||4,070||3,793||3,632||3,416|
|Transplant wait list as of Jan. 1|| 638||651||562||465||497||281|
|Deaths on wait list|| 29||21||23||38||31||20|
*All transplants in BC take place in one of three transplant centres based in Vancouver - BC Children's Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, and St. Paul's Hospital
**Includes Providence Health
BC Transplant provides provincial oversight for all aspects or organ donation and transplantation in BC, and is an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). BC’s three transplant centres are BC Children’s Hospital, St Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital. Transplant patients receive follow up care at the transplant centres or at one of eight regional clinics close to their home community. For more information, visit www.transplant.bc.ca or follow us on Twitter @BC_Transplant.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit www.phsa.ca or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.
Tina Robinson, Manager
Communications & Community Relations
Provincial Health Services Authority
Media line: 778.867.7472
INFOGRAPHIC: 2017 Donation and Transplant Highlights (PDF)