B.C. sees rise in organ donations and transplants in 2016

More than 600 people, however, are still on the waiting list for donations.

More than 600 British Columbians are on the waiting list for organ donations.

More than 600 British Columbians are on the waiting list for organ donations.

Organ donations and transplants continued to rise in British Columbia in 2016, according to BC Transplant. A total of 423 people received a life-saving transplant in B.C. in 2016, the most transplants ever recorded in the province in a year

However, there are still more than 600 British Columbians waiting for the gift of a donor organ, and people are asked to join the more than one million people around the province who have registered as an organ donor.

“You can register your decision [to become an organ donor], then let your family know,” says Tina Robinson, communications and community relations manager for BC Transplant. “It’s very important to talk to them.”

This is because even though a person has registered as an organ donor, it is not legally binding. “In the very unlikely case of you becoming an organ donor, the form you signed would be shown to your family members. Usually the family is happy to find out about it, but we encourage people to have those conversations.”

The B.C. deceased organ donation rate is 20.32 donors per million population, which is above the Canadian national rate of 18.2 donors per million. Living kidney donations were down to 95 in 2016, from 113 in 2015. BC Transplant is focusing on increasing this number, since 80 per cent of people on the transplant wait list are waiting for a kidney.

Other transplant records in B.C. in 2016 include 40 lung transplants, four more than in 2015 (and up from one lung transplant 15 years ago); 28 heart transplants (nine more than in 2015); and topping the one million mark for people who have registered as organ donors.

Robinson says that some jurisdictions have presumed consent when it comes to organ donation, meaning that no forms need to be signed. “It comes up a lot for us [having presumed consent] in terms of increasing organ donation rates. It’s a very challenging time for families. When they’re being asked that question [about organ donation] it’s always tragic. But often the family is relieved that someone has made that decision.”