Organ donation supply down, but donor interest increasing, says Manitoba transplant doc

FILE - In this Jan. 17, 2018, file photo, a transplant surgeon holds the kidney from a donor during surgery in St. Louis. Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File

Despite increased interest among Canadians in becoming organ donors, a recent report by the Canadian Institute of Health Informaton (CIHI) says the country’s organ supply isn’t meeting the demand.

Here in Manitoba, there are still 200 people waiting for new kidneys, with another 30 in line for a new heart, lung or liver.

Dr. Faisal Siddiqui of Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life told 680 CJOB that things are headed in a positive direction, but the stigma around talking about death is still a roadblock for many when it comes to organ donation.

“There’s definitely some reluctance among people to talk about death,” said Siddiqui.

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“It’s a human nature aspect that we just don’t like sitting around the kitchen table and saying, ‘when I die, this is what I want out of my life, or what I want for me’.”

Siddiqui, a transplant physician on the donor side, said an increase in people wanting to becomes donors after they die doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in viable organs for transplant.

“Unfortunately, to be a donor, there are some really strict requirements. There are a lot of people who want to be a donor, but there’s testing that has to happen on the organs. They have to be in a certain condition to be able to offer to another human being,” he said.

“The stringent rules about donation require us to make sure the organs are safe to transplant.

It’s important to recognize, he said, that while only a limited number of people have the ability to successfully donate, without a large group of willing potential donors, no one will benefit.

“The most heart-wrenching moments in my career have always been those moments where a family member hears their loved one is going to die but they see that there could be a benefit.

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“The amount of relief that families feel… they say, ‘I understand my loved one is dying, but someone else is going to live because of it,’ and they feel quite a bit at ease.

“We love that moment when we have that.”

Click to play video: 'Here’s why organ donation is so important to consider'
Here’s why organ donation is so important to consider

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