Lengthy organ transplant waitlists remain despite new record
Despite an all-time record in the number of patients receiving organ transplants, there are as many people requiring transplants as ever due to an aging population. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BC TRANSPLANT)
Waits for organ transplants remain lengthy with B.C.’s aging population — despite changes that have resulted in more people than ever receiving such operations.
According to numbers released by BC Transplant Monday, 346 people received transplants last year, a 63% increase compared to 2009. The number of living donors is also growing — now at 130 in a single year compared to 91 four years previously.
However, the increase in transplants isn’t enough to curtail the rising numbers of people needing transplants due to age, according to Vancouver Coastal Health’s Dr. Olwyn Johnston.
“The strain it puts on is basically these patients are more complicated because they’re older,” she said.
About one-in-four people waiting for a kidney transplant, for example, is above 60, Johnston said. At any time, the wait-list for that transplant could be 380 patients.
The numbers are improving, however, thanks in part to an exchange program launched in 2009 that pairs incompatible live donors with compatible ones across the country. If someone was to identify a donor who had a different blood type, an exchange could be done.
BC Transplant spokeswoman Peggy John said there are now 892,371 registered organ donors province-wide. That number needs to grow, she added, to meet growing demand.
Contrarily, to some beliefs, doctors would never refuse to save a patient for organ donation reasons, John explained. She added there are examples of people 70 and above making donations, and donors are rarely too old to give.