Demand for kidney transplants growing: report

Organ donation pamphlets are handed out across Canada. Leon Neal/Getty Images

TORONTO – The number of Canadians with end-stage kidney disease has steadily risen over the last decade, but a new report shows the number of donor organs available for transplant continues to lag far behind demand.

The report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows end-stage kidney disease increased by 35 per cent between 2003 and 2013, while cases of diabetes rose by 60 per cent during the same period.

Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of irreversible kidney disease, accounting for 36 per cent of new cases.

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The report says that by the end of 2013, almost 42,000 Canadians were living with failing kidneys, creating an unprecedented demand for dialysis and transplants.

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Almost 60 per cent of the patients needed dialysis in 2013, with the majority having to travel to clinics multiple times a week for the debilitating blood-purifying treatment.

In 2013, there were 1,419 kidneys transplanted — 588 of them from living donors — but that left more than 3,000 Canadians on the waiting list for a new organ.

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“For most patients, the best treatment option for ESKD (end-stage kidney disease) is a kidney transplant,” says Greg Webster, CIHI’s director of acute and ambulatory care information services.

“Not only do these patients live longer, their quality of life is typically much better than that of patients who depend on dialysis treatment.

“Unfortunately, the demand for donated kidneys continues to exceed the supply.”

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