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.

Just Posted

Mt Revelstoke fire burns at 250 hectares, Glacier National Park fire burns at 990 hectares

Three new fires were sparked in the parks by lightning over the weekend

Okanagan air quality improves slightly

Index for entire Okanagan Valley rated at 10+, or very high risk, because of wildfire smoke

Motorists urged to steer clear of Mabel forest road due to wildfires

Road closure in effect from kilometre 10-59 to give BC Forestry crews space

Fire season takes mental toll on Okanagan residents

CMHA suggests some mental health coping mechanisms

Child dies in boating incident on Kal Lake

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kal Lake when the incident occured

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Breaking: Trinity Western University changes controversial covenant

Pledge forbidding sexual intimacy outside of marriage to be optional at Langley university: report

Okanagan winery gets global recognition

Mission Hill is being recognized as having one of the top vineyard designs in the world.

48 sockeye, harbour seal seized from poachers caught on B.C. river

Charges pending after two poachers arrested for salmon fishing at night

Vancouver 6th most liveable city in the world: report

West coast city narrowly beats Toronto, but is bested by Calgary

Kelowna cannabis producer issued Canada sales license

Flowr Group already approved as B.C. marijuana dispensary supplier

Plaque that replaced Macdonald statue at Victoria city hall vandalized

Less than 24 hours after plaque was installed, an ‘X’ had been scratched through the centre

UPDATED: Cars plunge in Italian highway bridge collapse; 25 killed

Five more people are injured and in serious condition

Controlled burn slows down Snowy wildfire growth

BC Wildfire Service said back burn helped slow wildfire growth near Keremeos

Most Read