Generally Canadians are looked upon as a giving people. In times of natural disaster abroad or conflict, we often are among the first to lend a hand.
Why then, when it comes to organ donation, do we have an abysmal record?
A report recently released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), showed donor rates have stagnated in the country since 2006.
Public awareness campaigns and countless stories of grateful organ recipients have done little to help increase organ donation in Canada.
The numbers — or lack of — are both disheartening and staggering:
• In 2010 there were 1,022 organ donors (which led to 2,103 transplant procedures) an increase of only five donors (29 procedures) since 2006.
• 229 Canadians died waiting for an organ in 2010.
• 135 people needed a new heart in 2010 — 22 people died waiting for one.
• At the end of 2010 3,362 patients were waiting for a new kidney. The need for kidneys has doubled in the past 20 years.
Dr. Gary Levy, director of the University of Toronto Transplantation Institute, said Canada has a “disorganized, dysfunctional (organ donation) system with little accountability.”
He said work in a number of areas is needed, including better co-operation and co-ordination between hospitals and jurisdictions.
Ronnie Gavsie, president and CEO of Ontario’s Trillium Gift of Life Network, said the agency has been working hard to increase donor rates in the province and that the CIHI report “does not represent the reality in Ontario.” She says, in 2010, there were 200 deceased donors in Ontario, up from 128 in 2001.
While any increase is good, that number is hardly impressive.
Frankly, it is clear Canadians can do more when it comes to organ donation.