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

Mount Cain planning a modified winter season for north Island ski and snowboarders

Skiing is a COVID-friendly activity, but shared public spaces require adjustment

Remote B.C. tourism lodge staffed for coastal clean up instead of wilderness tours

The Great Bear Rainforest is home to exotic wildlife — and international trash

BC Hydro responds to all-day North Island power outage complaints

Dear Editor, I understand the frustration an all-day power outage like the… Continue reading

Report Card: North Island Secondary School named fourth fastest-improving school by Fraser Institute

NISS is listed among a total of 22 schools that have shown improvement in the annual report.

Town of Port McNeill’s annual Halloween fireworks show cancelled

‘This has been a horrible year for having to cancel many things that are near and dear to us’

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Long-term care need pressuring acute care in Comox Valley, Strathcona

Region could use a couple of large facilities for seniors on the north part of the Island

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Most Read