Kidney Transplant Summit recommends presumed consent legislation to increase organ donation in BC.

BURNABY, BC, May 6, 2015 /CNW/ - The Jury at the first-ever BC Kidney Transplant Consensus Summit hosted by The Kidney Foundation has recommended that British Columbia adopt presumed consent legislation, with the appropriate safeguards in place, to increase the number of kidney transplants in this province.

The Jury, chaired by the Hon. Wally Oppal QC, also considered but rejected the idea of offering financial incentives to organ donors. Living organ donors are currently reimbursed for expenses incurred in donating an organ, but not for the kidney itself. "As a society, we do not condone the sale of organs," said Oppal.

Jurors stated that Asian, South Asian, and Aboriginal communities in BC are over-represented in kidney disease numbers, and under-represented in kidney transplants. They flagged this as an area requiring more culturally appropriate and community driven research to identify and solve cultural and systemic barriers.  

Set up court room style, the eight-member Jury heard experts support kidney transplantation as the most cost-effective option for BC dialysis patients and then weighed the evidence for and against three controversial topics:  Should British Columbians automatically be considered organ donors when they die, or not?  Should people be paid to be organ donors or to register as organ donors? Is it a systemic or a cultural barrier that results in lower organ donation in Aboriginal, Asian and South Asian communities?

"Kidney disease is serious and until there is a cure, the best available therapy for a dialysis patient is a kidney transplant," says Dr. David Landsberg, Medical Director of the Kidney Transplant Program for BC Transplant.  "Unfortunately the demand for kidney transplants far exceeds the available supply. Right now there are 361 British Columbians on the official waitlist for a transplant, and many of them will die before they get one."

While 95% of British Columbians say they support organ donation, only 19% are actually registered on BC's official organ donor registry. 

"Kidney patients are why we hosted this Summit," says Karen Philp, Executive Director, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch.  "Far too many people die from this serious disease and the rest of us in the kidney community need to speak out and change this story".  

The Kidney Transplant Summit profiled the best available evidence to support recommendations made by 2,500 British Columbians on how The Kidney Foundation of Canada could achieve its commitment to increase kidney transplants and organ donor registration by 50% by 2019.

"I commend The Kidney Foundation on the work that they do to improve the lives of those living with kidney disease and their work with organ transplantation," says MLA for Surrey-Tynehead Amrik Virk.  "Being an organ donor is offering a piece of yourself to save someone's life - a huge positive for everyone involved, and something I hope more British Columbians sign up for."

Over 361 Kidney patients traveled to the Kidney Transplant Summit from all parts of the province along with family members and caregivers, to speak out on the urgency of the need for more organ donor registration and kidney transplants.

"I was overcome with emotion at the Summit," says William Stewart, who is waiting for a kidney.  "It was so inspiring to see hundreds of people from all over the province coming together to speak out for kidney patients on dialysis like me.  For the first time in a long time I felt hope for a better future for me, my wife and my kids."

About The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch
The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch exists to help prevent kidney disease or delay the onset.  We provide support services to patients who have chronic disease and promote organ donation to increase kidney transplant rates.  We are here to help each and every kidney patient until there is a cure. 

SOURCE The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon

Image with caption: "The Kidney Foundation of Canada (CNW Group/The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150506_C1122_PHOTO_EN_16274.jpg

For further information: Contact Deborah Tucker, Director of Communications & Marketing, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch at ph: 604-736-9775 ext. 230 or cell: 604-837-4317 deboraht@kidney.bc.ca

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The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon

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