A record-breaking 150 deceased organ donors gave the ‘gift of life’ in B.C. last year, contributing to an all-time annual high of 529 patients who received a transplant.
The 150 organ donors is an increase of 23 per cent from the previous donor record of 122, set in 2018.
“Becoming an organ donor is an incredibly important decision that can save a life,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix in a news release.
“The selfless acts of people around our province helps others get new leases on life, and I want to thank all those in B.C. who choose to become donors.”
British Columbia has been active in encouraging people to become organ donors and there are nearly 1.6 million registered organ donors across the province.
Campaigns have focused on increasing education as the provincial government has decided not to create an opt-out system, like the one in Nova Scotia.
That presumed consent system, which made headlines when it took effect in 2021, requires people to say they do not want to donate organs, rather than register as a possible donor.
Russel Stevenson, a 58-year-old resident of Vernon, B.C., donated his liver, pancreas, lungs, and both kidneys last year.
In an interview, his wife Sylvie said that despite how difficult it was to lose him, it gave her comfort to think about the people Russel helped.
“As much as I was hurting, I think about the recipients and their reaction when they got that call that an organ was available,” she told Global News.
“I wish them all the best with their second chance at life and wish for them to take advantage of Russel’s gifts.”
There were 66 lung transplants, 97 liver transplants, 340 kidney transplants and 22 heart transplants in B.C. last year — all record-setting numbers, according to the province.
As of Dec. 31, 2021, however, 585 British Columbians were still on the organ transplant list.
The government is encouraging people to register as donors.
“Thank you to the hundreds of health professionals who work in a co-ordinated way across the province to champion and support organ donation and transplantation,” BC Transplant executive director Eric Lun.
“In yet another extraordinary year, their combined efforts have given a record 529 transplant recipients the chance to improve or save their lives.”
Editor’s note: This is a corrected story. A previous version reported an incorrect number of kidney transplants.