Organ donors in Canada not meeting demand

Dec. 22, 2009 at 8:08 PM
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OTTAWA, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- There were 492 deceased organ donors in Canada in 2008, a low number given the number of deaths in which organs were eligible for transplant, a researcher said.

Dr. Sam Shemie, medical director of organs and tissues at Canadian Blood Services, said about 215 Canadians died las tyear while waiting for an organ transplant.

"People who die after catastrophic brain injuries, such as trauma and strokes, typically provide the largest proportion of deceased donors in Canada," Shemie said in a statement. "As mortality rates from these injuries are reduced, hospital services must become more effective and efficient in identifying and managing donors in order to increase the number of transplants. Public health policies to encourage people to express their wishes to be organ donors will also help improve the situation."

A study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found more than 1,000 Canadians donated organs in 2008, up from 812 in 1999. Two-thirds of the increase in available organs were living donors.

A living donor can only donate one organ or part of a liver or lung. During the study period of 1999-2008, the greatest relative increase in the use of living donors was seen in partial-liver transplantation, but kidneys are much in demand because of the increase in diabetes-related kidney failure, the study found.

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