Response to the Canadian Institute for Health Information Report on Organ

By Frank Markel, President and CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network

TORONTO, Dec. 22 /CNW/ - The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report that was issued this afternoon, understandably, takes a national perspective, and uses a conventional 10 year time frame. For Ontario, a proper analysis requires an appreciation of the history of accomplishments of Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) which has been operational since 2002. This leads to a very different set of conclusions. Since 2002 the transplant situation has gotten much better.

Since 2002, TGLN has successfully reversed a long standing trend of stagnant deceased donation numbers, increases in those waiting for a transplant, and increases in those dying on the waiting list.

    Here are the facts:

    -   Deceased organ donation in Ontario in the last six years has averaged
        177 donors a year, an increase of 26% compared to the average of the
        previous five years which was 141 a year.

    -   The waiting list for transplants in Ontario reached a peak in 2003,
        when 1913 people were on the list. Today, the waiting list stands at
        1683, a reduction of 12%.

    -   Kidney waiting lists have also decreased. They peaked in 2002 at 1456
        people on the wait list. Today they stand at 1193, a decrease of 18%.

    -   Deaths on the waiting list were highest in 2005, when 167 people died
        waiting for a life saving transplant. Today, with less than two weeks
        left in the year, we have seen 78 deaths in 2009. This represents a
        decrease of 51% compared to 2006.

    -   Trillium has achieved these increases by a variety of methods,
        working closely with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, our
        partner donor hospitals and transplant programs. In particular,
        Trillium is grateful for strong funding support from the government
        of Ontario, which has allowed it to achieve these results.

    -   Notable accomplishments include the following:

           -  Introduction of mandatory reporting of all deaths in ventilated
              units in major hospitals in 2006.

           -  Special training for hospital coordinators who speak to donor

           -  Successful introduction of donation after cardiac death,
              beginning in June of 2006.

           -  Province wide implementation of high school education program,
              in partnership with the London Health Sciences Transplant
              program and the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

           -  Campaigns with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, the
              Toronto Board of Rabbis and the Ontario Council of Imams to
              show that major religions encourage organ donation.

           -  Innovative, provocative campaign to convince youth of the
              importance of organ donation (

           -  Ability to look up donor registration preference, beginning in
              November, 2008.

           -  Making Trillium a "learning organization" as exemplified by
              daily "Bullet Rounds" reviewing all current cases.

Despite all these accomplishments, we still need more organ donors. Only 60% of families approached to give consent for donation for a loved one who has died, do agree to donate. Only 17% of Ontarians have registered their wish to be an organ donor. We should aspire to end all deaths on the waiting list, and to provide an organ for everyone who needs it. Ontarians can show their support for organ donation by registering their willingness to donate with ServiceOntario (see the Trillium web site for details).

SOURCE Trillium Gift of Life Network

For further information: For further information: or to set up an interview please contact: Madelyn Herschorn, Communications Advisor, Trillium Gift of Life Network, phone: (416) 619-2350, cell: (416) 526-8035, email:; Julia Dyck, Communications Assistant, Trillium Gift of Life Network, phone: (416) 619-2323, cell: (647) 668-3925, email:

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