It was a record year for lung and heart transplants in B.C. despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
A record 55 people received a lung transplant and 33 people, including three children, received a new heart.
The BC Liver Transplant program saw 80 liver transplants, matching their 2017 record, and a total of 280 people had a kidney transplant.
All told, 451 people in B.C. received a life-saving transplant last year.
Vancouver actor Jason Gray-Stanford received a heart transplant last year after going into heart failure and says he is eternally grateful for being given a second chance at life.
“Because of my transplant, I now have the freedom to do everything that I used to do and then some,” he said.
“This heart is a gift for which I am forever grateful, and one that I shall never squander.”
Sean Keenan, BC Transplant’s provincial medical director for donation services, said improved coordination with staff in intensive care units has contributed to rising transplant numbers.
“Over the years, we’ve definitely seen a big shift in the way that ICUs and teams look at organ donation,” he said.
“It’s really considered now as an end-of-life option that should be offered to anyone who could potentially be an organ donor.”
Another factor, Keenan said, is the province’s ongoing overdose crisis, which saw a record-high 1,716 deaths illicit drug deaths last year.
“Sadly, and probably not surprisingly, our number of organ donors that die as a result of overdose very much tracks what’s going on in the community,” he said.
“The recent coroner’s report showed a very startling high number of people who died and we have seen a proportional increase in our donors who have died of overdoses. It is a real issue. We, like everybody else, would wish to see this improve.”
Those wishing to register their wish to be an organ donor can visit the BC Transplant website.