B.C. breaks record for number of transplant donations

More than 450 lives were saved by organ transplants in 2017, according to the Ministry of Health

For the first time in his medical career, Dr. David Landsberg feels like B.C. is leading the way for deceased organ transplant – and rightfully so.

A record-breaking 479 lives were saved by organ transplants in B.C. last year, according to new data from the Ministry of Health, a 25 per cent increase from 2016.

Landsberg, BC Transplant’s provincial medical doctor, said in a statement Friday this translates to more lives being saved than ever before.

The province suggests the growth is from a mix of system upgrades and healthcare teams’ increasing efforts to identify potential donors and support families in choosing organ donation.

But there’s also been a cultural shift, Landsberg said, that’s normalized deceased organ donations.

“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,” he said in a news release.

In times of tragedy, it has become more common for some families and loved ones to find closure in seeing a life forever-changed through the donation of a kidney or lung or heart.

And while B.C. has been ground-zero of the opioid epidemic in Canada, opioid-related deaths have also been linked to increasing organ transplants. Although B.C. Transplant can’t confirm the cause of death that results in organ donations, bout 19 per cent of all donations came from a fentanyl drug user.

READ MORE: 25 per cent of organs donated in B.C. came from fentanyl overdose deaths

WATCH: Government approves funding of $750,000 drug for B.C. woman

More than 630 B.C. residents awaited transplants last year. And while some were lucky enough to receive a transplant, 29 died while waiting for a life-saving organ.

Alison Snowden was one of the 52 British Columbians to receive the gift of life last year, in the form of new lungs.

“You never think something like this is going to happen to you until it does,” she said. “A transplant saved my life.”

Lung and kidney transplants were the two kinds of organ donations that saw the biggest rate increase in 2017, totalling more than 30 per cent of the total transplants. Meanwhile, 97 living kidney transplants were performed.

Dr. John Yee, Medical Director of the BC Lung Transplant Program, said he remembers a time when there was just one lung transplant within a year.

Since then, he’s watched the rates of lung transplants increase “dramatically” in recent years.

“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,” Yee said.

The increase in donations has been met with an increased number of patients waiting for organs, data shows.

As of Jan. 1, 638 people were still waiting for an organ transplant. Residents can register their own decision about organ donation at transplant.bc.ca.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Feb. 13

120 years ago: Revelstoke Herald, Feb. 13, 1900 Ten Revelstoke men left… Continue reading

What’s in a name? The story of Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic Revelstoke peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Celebrating more than the love of fresh powder at Revelstoke Mountain Resort today

Couples married or renewed their vows for free on Feb. 14

City of Revelstoke and union reach agreement

Workers will see a 2% raise each year for the next four years

VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard wins first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award

Leonard scored 30 points and hit eight 3-pointers to lead Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

South Okanagan mountain bore racist name for a half century

Nkawala Mountain was initially named in connection with the deaths of two black men.

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

UBCO announces new top boss for Okanagan campus

Lesley Cormack will start in the position this summer

Nine West Kelowna athletes to go to B.C. Winter Games

The athletes will compete in biathlon and cross country ski

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Most Read