Kelsey Fiddler poses with her daughter Logan Humble Strong in this undated handout photo. Fiddler named her baby after Logan Boulet, 21, who was killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018, to honour his support for organ donation. (Kelsey Fiddler/Contributed)

More than 200 patients died waiting for organ transplants in 2018: report

Donations have increased, but the number of patients in need can top the number of organs available

Wait times for organ transplants continue to cost patients their lives across Canada, statistics released Thursday suggest, even as the country has seen a surge in such procedures over the past decade.

The data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information was collected by health centres and organizations across the country on organ donation, transplant and treatment from 2009 to 2018.

Nearly 2,800 organ transplants were performed in Canada in 2018, marking a 33-per-cent increase over 10 years.

But more than 4,350 Canadians were still waiting for a transplant by the end of last year, according to the data. Another 223 patients died while on a wait list.

“Though our transplant procedures are going up, there’s also new factors that are contributing to more people needing organs,” said Michael Terner, program lead for CIHI’s Canadian Organ Replacement Register.

READ MORE: ‘Amazing they could do that:’ Baby who got organ donation now healthy 6-year-old

The statistics indicate that Canada is struggling to keep pace with patients’ needs, even as transplant practices have improved, he said.

While the number of living donors per million Canadians has for the most part plateaued in recent years, Terner said the rate of organ donations from deceased people has jumped by 42 per cent.

Some have credited Logan Boulet, a 21-year-old boy killed in the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, with a surge in donor sign-ups.

He signed up weeks before he and 15 others died in April 2018, and his organs later benefited six people.

Canadian Blood Services estimates that within two months of his death more than 150,000 people registered to become organ donors, in what’s been dubbed the “Boulet Effect.”

But Terner said much of the spike is due to a 2006 move to broaden the criteria for deceased donations beyond brain death cases to include patients whose hearts have permanently stopped beating.

Each deceased donor can provide up to eight organs for transplantation, while living donors can provide a kidney or part of their liver.

However, even as donations have increased, Terner said the number of patients who need a transplant can far exceed the number of organs available.

More than 1,700 kidneys were transplanted last year, accounting for more than half of the procedures, according to the CIHI report.

Meanwhile, the number of Canadians diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease has spiked by 32 per cent over the past decade.

Terner said the rise in kidney failure has been fuelled by increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and an aging population.

READ MORE: 66% of B.C. residents want opt-out system for organ donation, poll says

Patients on dialysis wait an average of 3.8 years after starting the treatment to receive a kidney transplant, he added.

Terner hopes medical advances will improve access to transplants across the board, but in the meantime, he urged Canadians to register as organ donors and discuss the decision with their families.

“These are completely preventable deaths. Every time that an organ that could have been retrieved isn’t, it is possible that it could have saved the life of an individual.”

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Northern Health moves reefer unit to Mills Memorial

The move is not related to COVID-19

RDKS developing strategy to bring higher internet speeds to remote areas

Results of public survey will help ISPs build business case for funding

UPDATE: Man drowns crossing Skeena River

59-year old Prince Rupert victim pronounced dead at Mills Memorial

Donations flow into Mills Memorial Hospital

Community responds to request for equipment, supplies

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

Most Read