Organ Donation & Transplantation
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Do you ever think about Organ Donation?
I'm the Recipient of a Kidney Transplant
In 1996, after waiting two and one-half years, I received a kidney transplant on April 17th, 1996.
My brother, Todd, donated one of his kidneys — literally the gift of life!
The freedom from needing to deal with peritoneal dialysis four times a day is priceless. I no longer have to schedule my life around the requirements of my dialysis sessions and I have far fewer diet restrictions.
So is My Wife
On July 20, 2002 I married Michelle, also a kidney transplant.
- My kidney transplant, a living donor, was on April 17, 1996.
- Michelle's kidney transplant, the gift of someone she never knew, was on December 4, 1979.
Both of us continue to enjoy stable renal transplants, even after many years.
That said, it is important to realize that a kidney transplant is not a cure — it is a treatment just like dialysis, but offers greater freedom (albeit with issues related to drug interactions and side effects like bone density issues).
Michelle is 4 feet 6 inches because her kidney transplant was received before she was fully grown (it was the first adult kidney transplanted into a child in BC). The doctors didn't allow her to reach the 6 feet plus enjoyed by her brothers because the transplant could not grow with her.
The Transplant Wait List
I hope you'll have a look at the information below. An average of 16 people every day learn that their kidneys have failed.
The following was included in an April 4, 2011 email communication from The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch:
“Did you know, wait times for a kidney transplants in BC are nearly six years? Only 17% of British Columbians are registered organ donors. Yet 85% of people surveyed say they would sign up. We wish to close this gap!”
Many people are waiting for Organ Transplants and some will die waiting.
This can be a very long wait for many people. The average wait for a kidney transplant in B.C. is 5.5 years — the highest in Canada 2008–2010.
Why Such a Long Waiting List?
- Demand is increasing and far outstrips supply.
- Donor rates have stagnated since 2006 at 14–17 donors/million.
- While the need for organs has never been greater, the number of people registered on the B.C. Organ Donor Registry as a percentage of the population continues to be very low.
What Can I Do?
There are several things that you can do to help reduce the wait for people to receive a transplant:
- Fill out the Organ Donor Registry Form for each member of your family.
- Talk to your family about your wish to donate your organs and tissues.
- Consider the Living Donor Paired Exchange (LDPE) registry
- Support the Kidney Foundation of Canada financially
- The Kidney Foundation has provided over half of the more than $100 million dollars spent in Canada on research for kidney disease.
- They funded the development of Peritoneal Dialysis techniques.
- They funded clinical trials of EPO (erythropoietin, a hormone used to enhance the production of red blood cells in kidney patients to fight anaemia).
- Volunteer for the Kidney Foundation.
- The Kidney Foundation has a Victoria Regional Chapter.
- Healthy volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks.
- Have a volunteer speak to your service club, school, employee group, etc.
- There are a number of people trained to speak about this issue (while I did this for a number of years, I am no longer actively speaking).
- These volunteers are transplant recipients, living donors, family members and others that have a keen interest in reducing the wait lists in British Columbia.
The B.C. Organ Donor Registry
BC's ODR Established in 1997
British Columbia became the first province in Canada to establish a new Organ Donor Registry in 1997.
Drivers License Sticker Invalid
The ODR replaces all previous forms of consent including a sticker or the words ORGAN DONOR stamped on your drivers license.
There is a Critical Shortage of Organ Donors
Only 17% Registered
There is a critical shortage of organ donors. According to BC Transplant Society:
- 85% of British Columbians said they support organ donation and intend to register their decision, yet only 17% of you have done so.
- The chances that you will require an organ transplant far outweigh the odds that you will ever be a potential organ donor.
As of December 31, 2011:
- 819,703 people are signed up with the Organ Donor Registry in B.C. (approximately 18% of the population).
- There are 432 people on the waiting lists.
- There have been 285 transplants in 2011 (compared to 295 in 2010 and 211 in 2009).
Current stats are displayed on The British Columbia Transplant Society website.
People Will Die Waiting For Transplants
Nearly 80% of the over 4,300 Canadians on the waiting list for an organ transplantation are waiting for a kidney. In 2010, a third of the people who died while waiting for organs were waiting for a kidney.
- Renal (6%): 20 people.
- Extra Renal (30%): 17 people.
The longer the wait, the more that will die waiting.
When you consider than less than 1% of all deaths in B.C. will result in organ donation you can see the critical nature of these numbers and the need to improve registration. If everyone in B.C. was registered there would be a significant reduction in the waiting list. Since 1968, there have been more than 4,700 organ transplants in B.C. More living donor kidney transplants have been performed each year than deceased donor kidney transplants each year since 1999 (only 54 in 2008).
Are You Registered?
Are you registered? For more information contact The British Columbia Transplant Society and register to be an organ donor today! The following locations carry the forms:
- Drivers Service Centers (Motor Vehicle Branch)
- London Drugs locations.
- ICBC Autoplan Brokers.
- ICBC Claim Centres.
- Doctors' offices in B.C.
- Overwaitea and Save On Food Pharmacies.
Organ Donors Improve Lives
Improved Quality of Life
I can't begin to tell you of the improvements in quality of life that an organ transplant brings to the recipient. It ends the uncertainty of not knowing if you will get that call today and lets you get on with living your life.
A Gift of Life
For the family of the donor you know that a gift of an organ means that the selfless giving nature of your loved one continues to live on in the improved well-being of the recipient. It truly is a gift of life.
Talk To Your Family
To ensure that your life-saving gift is used talk to your family now and express your desire to make this valuable contribution.
One Donor Helps 13 people
One person's donation can help up to 13 people waiting for transplanted organs and tissues.
Talk To Your Family
British Columbia is purchasing corneas from the United States because of donation shortages. An increase of donors will help alleviate this problem in addition to reducing the waiting list for solid organ transplants.
Transplantation Makes Economic Sense
Transplants are Cheaper
Transplantation is the most economical form of treatment for end-stage kidney disease. It costs $60,000 per year to treat each patient on hemodialysis but, following the $23,000 cost of the transplant surgery, transplant patients are maintained for about $6,000 per year for the medication costs.
Five-year Savings of Approximately $250,000
Over five years the cost of a transplant is $53,000 compared to $300,000 for hemodialysis treatment over the same period — a savings of $247,000! The benefits to our strained health care system are obvious, and this doesn't take into account the tremendous increase in quality of life for the recipient.
Transplantation Reduces Demand for Scarce Dialysis Facilities
Demand is Up For Dialysis
Hemodialysis demand in Victoria has been increasing at a rate of 17% per year.
Victoria Services Vancouver Island's Dialysis Patients
This affects the whole renal patient population on Vancouver Island since the Royal Jubilee Hospital Dialysis Unit is the home hospital to all hemodialysis patients on the Island. All such patients start here, and must return if they are unwell.
Transplantation Eases Demand
Transplantation will help to ease the demand for these facilities and greatly improve the quality of life for the patients that receive a transplant.
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
The Kidney Foundation of Canada is another important organization. They focus on three areas:
- Research - finding effective treatments for kidney disease. About half the research dollars spent on kidney disease research in Canada was funded by the Kidney Foundation. Governments provide basic health care but don't fund the necessary research.
- Public Education - aimed at improving the number of organ donors and reducing the long waiting lists.
- Patient Services - such as funding the production and distribution of the binder Living with Kidney Disease. This manual is used to inform newly diagnosed patients and their families about the types of renal (kidney) disease, the various forms of treatment available, renal diets and the process of learning to live with a serious disease.
Kidney Car Program
If you or your business have old or unwanted vehicles, such as trucks, boats, motor homes, motorcycles, trailers, ATVs or even farm equipment, consider the benefits of donating to Kidney Car.
The Kidney Car Program would be happy to take your unwanted vehicle off your hands. Donating your vehicle will give you the satisfaction of cleaning up the air and making a difference in the life of someone with kidney disease. Plus, you'll also receive:
- A free tow;
- an official tax receipt; and
- that warm fuzzy feeling that you helped The Kidney Foundation reduce the burden of kidney disease.
The Foundation recycles these donated vehicles, with the proceeds helping the work of the Kidney Foundation in fighting kidney disease. See the Kidney Car Program's FAQ for additional details.
Links to More Information
For more information on Organ Donation and transplantation try:
- B.C. Transplant Society.
- The Kidney Foundation of Canada.
- 65_RedRoses is a film about Eva Markvoort's battle with cystic fibrosis and wait for a double-lung transplant.
- TransWeb — a U.S. resource on transplantation and donation.
- My Transplant Medical Links.
Learn More About Organ Donation
Want to know more about organ donation in Canada?
The staff and volunteers at the B.C. Transplant Society and the Kidney Foundation of Canada would love to help as would transplant recipients and living donors wishing to encourage the conversation about the need for organ donors.
For a listing of a number of good medical research starting points try these medical sites listings.
This page links to content that is relevant to the issue of transplantation, particularly renal transplants and my experiences. I do not do link exchanges. It is my experience that such links are temporary and seldom provide a useful resource for viewers on my site (or yours).
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Updated:June 7, 2012