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

76 new cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday

Active cases at 1,036, 10,713 recovered cases

Alberta RCMP launch online crime reporting

Select property crimes can now be reported online through the province-wide initiative

COVID-19 tests urged for all teachers and school staff

121 new cases Wednesday, active cases up to 1,040

Two-night fundraiser supports Sylvan Lake family after parent death

Billy Cooney, owner of Cooney Creek Plumbing and Heating, died July 25 after a dirt bike accident

Sylvan Lake Community Partners reorganizes to better serve clients

The facility was thoroughly cleaned and reorganized during its shutdown due to COVID-19

Charges likely in fatal attack at central Alberta medical clinic: RCMP

A vigil was held Monday night to mourn the victim

Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools receive grant from Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

WRPS has received $15,975 from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

Three people drown at Crescent Falls

Rocky Mountain House RCMP say the incident occurred Tuesday

Feds seeking private consultant to design firearm buyback program

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Face coverings, mandatory in most indoor public places across the province, can help limit the spread of COVID-19

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Most Read