Organ Donation & Transplantation
Do you ever think about Organ Donation?
About 72% of those on the waiting list need a kidney.
Are You at Risk for Kidney Disease?
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 with side effects like reduced bone density).
Michelle is 4 feet 6 inches because her kidney transplant was received before she was fully grown (her new kidney was the first adult kidney transplanted into a child in B.C.). 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.
Facing the Facts
The Facing the Facts infographic is available in two orientations:
A 2013 Facing the Facts document (PDF) produced the Kidney Foundation of Canada includes information from the Canadian Organ Replacement Register.
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 average 15.5 donors/million in Canada.
- 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.
- Approximately one of every three organs that could be available for transplant is lost because the wishes of the loved one are not known by their family.
- Consider the LDPE (Living Donor Paired Exchange) registry
- Financially Support the Kidney Foundation of Canada
- The Kidney Foundation has raised more than $100 million to support life-saving kidney research across Canada.
- The KFoC funded the development of Peritoneal Dialysis techniques.
- The KFoC funded clinical trials of EPO (erythropoietin, a hormone used to enhance the production of red blood cells in kidney patients to fight anaemia).
- Learn more…
- 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.
5-Year Kidney Foundation Campaign to Reduce Wait Lists
The Kidney Foundation began an intensive 5-year Kidney Donor & Organ Donor Registration Campaign in January 2015. The goal is to increase kidney transplants and organ donor registration by 50%. If successful, it will cut the wait list for kidney transplants in half by 2019.
There is no cure for kidney disease. Kidney transplants are still the best available therapy for someone surviving on dialysis. We know that between 30% and 40% of people waiting will never get the kidney they need because there are not enough kidney donors.
— Karen Philip, Executive Director BC & Yukon Branch in Kidney News, Winter 2015
To learn how you can make a difference, contact the Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch.
The B.C. Organ Donor Registry
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 20% Registered
There is a critical shortage of organ donors. According to BC Transplant Society:
- While 95% of British Columbians agree with organ donation, only 20% have registered their decision.
- The chances that you will require an organ transplant far outweigh the odds that you will ever be a potential organ donor.
- After registering, talk to your family about your wishes. Unfortunately, some organs that could be available for transplant are lost because the decision of the loved one is not known by their family.
- Factors contributing to better deceased donor rates on Vancouver Island were the work of the physician lead and in-hospital donation coordinator; expansion of donation after cardiac death as a donation option; and increased education and support for staff working in critical care areas.
As of March 19, 2015:
- 925,272 people are signed up with the Organ Donor Registry in B.C. (approximately 20% of the population).
- There are 465 people on the waiting lists in B.C.
- Wait times can be longer depending upon your blood type.
- There have been 326 transplants in 2014 (compared to 346 in 2013, 215 in 2012, 285 in 2011, 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 that only approximately 3% of all deaths in B.C. will result in organ donation, there is a critical 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 6,200 organ transplants in B.C. More living donor kidney transplants have been performed each year than deceased donor kidney transplants each year since 1999 (107 in 2014).
Are You Registered?
For more information contact The British Columbia Transplant Society.
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
Transplants are cost-effective. For those with kidney disease, the average cost of dialysis treatment is $50,000 a year. By comparison, the one-time cost of a kidney transplant in BC is approximately $15,000, with an additional yearly cost of about $5,500 for anti-rejection medications.
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.
Updated: April 2, 2015