#48in48: Victoria, B.C. leads the way in organ donation

WATCH: Elaine Yong has the story of a new program that is saving lives across BC

Only one out of every six people who are suitable candidates for organ donation actually goes on to become a donor. If all of those candidates went on to donate, the wait list for organs could virtually be eliminated.

Victoria, B.C. has deceased donor rates nearly double that of the national average, thanks in part to a new program that is saving lives.

Shannon McCloskey works as Vancouver Island’s first transplant coordinator, making sure family members are asked if their recently deceased relative can be an organ donor.

“There is a strong sense of community that I’ve noticed since I’ve I moved here,” says McCloskey. “Really, if we don’t ask them, then we’ve made the decision for them.”

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The island’s donor rate tripled last year and is now the highest in Canada and even rivals countries like Spain, which is considered a world leader in organ donations.

WATCH: Extended interview on Spain’s opt-out organ donation program

In December 2012, Vicky Dabbs’ brother Paddy was rushed to Victoria General Hospital with a devastating brain injury. The 57-year-old optometrist had talked about his wishes to be an organ donor with his brother, so there was no hesitation from the family when they were asked to donate.

“There came a time when the doctors came and spoke to us and said that there was nothing more they could do to save Paddy’s life and asked us whether or not he had ever discussed organ donation,” said Dabbs.

For Dabbs, the decision to donate has given her some peace of mind knowing they were able to honour her late brother’s wishes.

For McCloskey, the work can be deeply satisfying.

“I see the best in people at the very worst of times,” she said.


It’s national organ and tissue donation week and Global News is working alongside to encourage 48,000 people to register as donors within 48 hours. The clock has started and across the country Canadians of all ages are signing up.

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To register to become an organ donor or verify your registration, go to

Be sure to use the hashtag #48in48 on social media to spread the message.

-with files from Elaine Yong

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