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Ontario sees record number of tissue donors in 2018: report

Close of belly of a girl with liver transplant scars.
Close of belly of a girl with liver transplant scars. Capuski / Getty Images

Ontarians are donating tissue in record numbers. Organ donation, however, is down slightly.

According to Trillium Gift of Life Network, more people than ever donated tissue in 2018. The Ontario government’s organ and tissue donation and transplant agency reports there were 2,413 tissue donors last year — compared with 2,141 in 2017.

“A single tissue donor has the potential to help up to 75 people: a cornea transplant can restore sight, a skin graft can help burn patients, and a heart valve replacement can help a child with a congenital heart condition play and thrive,” Trillium said.

READ MORE: Quick facts about organ and tissue donation in Ontario

The number of overall organ donors decreased to 1,236 in 2018 from 1,286 in 2017.

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Other findings in the report:

  • 252,581 new registered organ and tissue donors
  • 1,630 people were on the transplant waitlist as of Dec. 31, 2018

The agency credits the rise in tissue donation to “the expansion of routine notification to more hospitals, requiring the hospitals to notify Trillium Gift of Life Network when a patient has died.”

WATCH: National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week highlights need

Click to play video 'National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week highlights need' National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week highlights need
National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week highlights need

It appears heart transplant patients waited fewer days on average, as well. The report claims a 42 per cent decrease in the average wait time in one year alone, 120 days in 2018 down from 214 days in 2017.

“Because someone took two minutes to register as a donor, and because a family made the selfless decision to donate their loved one’s organs and tissues, the lives of many Ontarians were forever changed in 2018,” says Ronnie Gavsie, president and CEO, Trillium Gift of Life Network, in a media release. “But despite all the progress, it is not enough. Every three days someone dies waiting for an organ transplant.”

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READ MORE: Survivor’s story helps raise awareness for organ donor registration

As of Dec. 31, 2018, the province is reporting 4.2 million people have registered their consent to organ and tissue donation. That’s a 126 per cent increase over the last 10 years.