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The public health-care system at work: 500th life saved in British Columbia due to heart-transplant surgery

Vancouver — A 33-year-old Vancouver man who suffered from heart failure is grateful for a second chance at life after being the recipient of the 500th heart transplant performed in B.C.
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​Marc Bains, who received his new heart in June at St. Paul’s Hospital after a 10-month wait, is looking forward to resuming a normal life.

“I’m excited about the freedom a new heart gives me to live my life. I will be able to play sports again, travel with my wife, attend events, all without struggling from heart failure,” said Bains.

Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said the 500th milestone is a testament to the hard work of a broad group of public health-care partners that includes Mr. Bains’ health-care team at St. Paul’s, as well as BC Transplant, which oversees all aspects of organ donation and transplantation in the province. 

“Thanks to the selfless gift of donors and their families, 500 people have been given a new chance to experience life,” said Minister Dix. “Reaching this remarkable milestone speaks to the skill and dedication of everyone involved.”

Mr. Bains’ operation took place 30 years after the first heart-transplant procedure was performed in B.C. Dr. Anson Cheung, the surgical director of the Cardiac Transplant Program of BC, performed the 500th procedure at St. Paul’s, where all adult heart transplants in the province have taken place since 1996. 

“I feel grateful to be part of this milestone,” said Dr. Cheung. “That moment when the newly transplanted heart begins to beat is something I never get tired of.”

He added, “No one single person makes these surgeries a success. It’s a team that includes all pre- and post-operative transplant support people who help patients prepare and recover for a  return to as normal a life as possible.”

The other individuals who have made this milestone possible are the 500 donors and their families. 

“Thanks to organ donors and the gift of life they offer, hundreds of people are alive today through transplant,” said Colleen Hart, the vice president of provincial population health at the Provincial Health Services Authority. “The donors are heroes, and their families are heroes toofor giving others a second chance during one of the most difficult moments of their lives.”

The milestone transplant is the result of advancements in transplant research, skill and expertise in this province. With improved research and progress in anti-rejection medication, better management of donor hearts and increased support pre-and-post transplant, heart transplant recipients today live longer and better lives. 

More than 1.2 million British Columbians have registered in the Organ Donor Registry. Meanwhile, more than 600 British Columbians are on the waiting list for an organ transplant. 

For more information on becoming a donor and helping save lives, visit www.transplant.bc.ca

Quick facts:

  • As of July 2018, 322 heart transplant recipients receive post-transplant care in B.C.
  • As of July 2018, 10 British Columbians are waiting for a heart transplant.
  • The youngest heart transplant recipient in B.C. was 26 days old, and the oldest recipient was 72 years old.
  • The longest living B.C. heart transplant recipient received his transplant 29.5 years ago.
  • Before 1996, the five-year post-heart transplant survival rate was 65 per cent. Today, it is more than 80 per cent. 
  • Heart transplant is used to treat severe, end-stage heart failure, which can be caused by damage to the heart from a variety of conditions such as congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart valve problems and infections. 
BC Transplant provides provincial oversight for all aspects of organ donation and transplantation in B.C., and is a part of the Provincial Health Services Authority. B.C.’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 plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across B.C., 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.

Providence Health Care, which operates St. Paul’s Hospital, is one of Canada's largest faith-based health-care organizations, operating 17 health-care sites in Metro Vancouver. Providence focuses its care on six populations of emphasis: heart/lung, kidney/renal, HIV/AIDS, urban health, mental health and seniors’ services.  For more information, visit www.providencehealthcare.org

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Images and b-roll of the 500thth heart transplant are available at goo.gl/pRwEiF and youtu.be/iypVoDmjGrs.

Media contacts:

Elaine Yong
Media Relations
Providence Health Care

O: 604.682.2344 ext. 66987
M: 604.837.6003
eyong@providencehealth.bc.ca

Vincent Chou 
Communications
Provincial Health Services Authority
O: 604.230.9454
PHSA Media Line: 778.867.7472
vincent.chou@phsa.ca

BC Transplant
 
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