Manitoba seeing significant improvement in kidney transplant numbers

A national report released today by Canadian Blood Services and the Canadian Institute for Health Information highlights how system changes are increasing organ donations and Manitoba is on trend and improving, ranking in the top three per capita in Canada for kidney transplants.

“A record 57 Manitobans, including six youth, received kidney transplants in 2016 through Manitoba’s Renal Transplant Programs at HSC Winnipeg and as of this fall we’ve already surpassed that previous high,” said Dr. Peter Nickerson, Medical Director, Transplant Manitoba, adding final numbers for 2017 will be announced in January.

Twenty-five of those donated kidneys came from living kidney donors, up from 15 donations in 2015. Overall, in 2016 Manitoba was only behind British Columbia in the number of living kidney donor transplants per capita. Another six came from three donors via donation after cardio-circulatory death (DCD). In 2016, the provincial government introduced DCD giving more families the opportunity to consider organ donation and in turn, help more patients who require life-saving transplants.

Per capita, Manitoba was third in the country behind British Columbia and Ontario in the kidney transplants in 2016. To improve Manitoba’s deceased organ donation rate which places the province and Saskatchewan as the lowest in the country, the team has been working with health-care staff to ensure patients who meet donation criteria are being referred by implementing a mandatory referral policy (there were 93 potential donors in 2015 and 101 in 2016) so that all families are being offered the opportunity to decide if organ donation is the right choice for them. These efforts have already resulted in significant gains. Since adopting the mandatory referral policy, the percentage of all potential donors actually referred has risen from 35.1% in 2014 to 74.3% in 2016.

“Transplant Manitoba is a national leader in taking the steps needed to increase the rate of organ donation,” said Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen. “Their work has made a significant difference in the lives of Manitobans and their families, and I look forward to additional increases in successful transplants.”

The minister noted that earlier this fall, the government announced that Brandon West MLA Reg Helwer will chair an all-party committee on organ donation.

“I am encouraged that the approach taken by our medical professionals has yielded improved results for kidney donations in Manitoba,” said Helwer. “I look forward to working with the all-party committee on organ donation to learn about best practices in place in other jurisdictions so that we can improve Manitoba’s donation rates for all organs.”

Both Helwer and Goertzen were part of a November event announcing a partnership with Manitoba Public Insurance and the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba to encourage Manitobans to recycle paper donor cards and register online.

Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life is also continuing its efforts through public campaigns and social media to encourage families to have a conversation about organ and tissue donation, express their wishes and register that decision using On average 49% of families choose to decline the offer of organ donation largely because they are unsure if that is what their loved one would have wanted. When families are aware of the decision to be a donor, 90% of families honour that choice.

Since January 2017, nearly 4,000 Manitobans have registered at bringing the total  number of Manitobans who have declared their intent to be a donor to almost 22,000.