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Diabetes triggers kidney failure and a need for organ donors

Watch above: The number of people living with diabetes in Canada has surged by 60 per cent in the last 10 years. Meaghan Craig explores the connection between the disease and the need for organ donors.

SASKATOON – It’s a report that highlights the need for more Canadians to sign up to become organ donors. On Tuesday, the Canadian Institute for Health Information(CIHI) released its latest report showing diabetes among Canadians in the last 10 years has surged by 60 per cent.

“We believe that particularly the native population are more prone to diabetes and increased risk of complications due to diabetes but we are seeing now almost an epidemic of obesity in our society affecting children,” Dr. Ahmed Shoker, a medical director with the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR), said in response to the findings.

“We have adolescents now with early diabetes, we never saw that before.”

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Not only can diabetes be life-threatening, according CIHI officials, it can lead to life-threatening complications.

Complications including cardiovascular disease, blindness, lower-limb amputations and is the single, leading cause of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD).

“In 2013, there were over 42,000 Canadians living with end-stage kidney disease; 24,000 of those were on dialysis and 17,800 were living with a functioning kidney transplant,” said Greg Webster, director of acute and ambulatory care information services for CIHI.

READ MORE: #48in48: Organ donors needed in Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, there’s an estimated 1,300 people in the province living with ESKD.

This spike in diabetes has created an unprecedented demand for dialysis treatment and kidney transplants.

“People either need to be on dialysis which has a tremendous impact on their quality of life, health care costs and also reduced survival rates or those patients with end-stage liver disease need a functioning kidney transplant,” explained Webster.

According to CIHI, dialysis is more costly than a transplant to the overall health care system at a price tag of up to $250,000 more per patient over a five-year period.

“We have to appreciate that the kidney can do more than what dialysis offers, dialysis can remove some but not all toxins,” said Shoker.

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In 2013, there were 1,419 Canadians who received a kidney transplant but 3,382 who remained on a wait list and 88 who died waiting for the organ.

“The unfortunate fact is that the number of people needing organs is continuing to increase over the years and the number of donor organs available doesn’t change much so there’s a huge discrepancy and that discrepancy is getting worse with time,” said Dr. Mike Moser, SHR transplant surgeon.

According to CIHI, Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined have the lowest rate of deceased donors in the country at 7.2 per million population compared to Quebec at 20 per million population.

Of those who received a kidney donation in 2013, 62 per cent were from deceased donors.