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Ontario reaches record highs for organ donations, transplants in 2019

The Trillium Gift of Life Network said organ donations and transplants reached record highs in 2019.
The Trillium Gift of Life Network said organ donations and transplants reached record highs in 2019. The Trillium Gift of Life Network

Ontario set a new high for organ donations and transplants in 2019, according to Trillium Gift of Life Network.

There were 1,386 organ transplants and 684 deceased and living organ donors, which is a 13 per cent increase over 2018.

READ MORE: Here’s how organ donation works in Canada

“More Ontarians than ever before gave and received the gift of life last year thanks to the collaboration among our forward-thinking hospital partners, dedicated stakeholder groups and hard-working staff,” said Ronnie Gavsie, CEO and President of Trillium Gift of Life Network.

“These achievements inspire us to do more. We will continue to work with fervor toward a day when no Ontarian dies on the wait list due to a lack of an organ or tissue.”

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According to a press release Tuesday, “technological and medical advancements” have added to the higher numbers because people with certain medical conditions, who wouldn’t have been able to participate before, are now able to take part in transplants.

Those donors accounted for 21 per cent of all transplants in 2019.

“Transplants of healthy and suitable organs from donors with hepatitis C, for example, can now safely occur, expanding the pool of potential donors and decreasing wait times for recipients on the list,” the release said.

READ MORE: More than 200 Canadians died while waiting for organ transplants in 2018: report

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott called the news an “incredible achievement.”

“Through their collaborative work with our health system partners, Ontario has made significant strides in organ and tissue donations and transplants that will help more patients and families access the life-saving procedures.”

Dr. Beatriz Dominguez-Gil, director general of Spain’s Organizacion Nacional de Transplantes (ONT), echoed Elliott’s sentiment.

“We congratulate Trillium Gift of Life Network on their record-breaking year. Their continued commitment to advancing leading practices to increase donations and transplants is remarkable.”

READ MORE: Should Canada have presumed consent for organ donations? Here are the pros and cons

Registration to become a donor also increased in 2019 by 51 per cent. Trillium said registration is key because when someone becomes a potential donor and is already registered, in most cases, the families most forward with the donation.

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Currently, there are 1,600 people in Ontario waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Trillium says every three days, someone dies while waiting for one.