Ontario organ transplant officials expect within months to start transplanting organs from people who have been declared dead after heart failure, a procedure hailed as a new era for organ donation in Canada. The current practice is to remove organs from patients declared brain dead but whose hearts are still beating, allowing the organs to be maintained on a respirator until they are transplanted.
This is wonderful news and the directors and management of Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario are to be commended for their progressive initiatives to help improve organ donation rates and save lives by doing so. There are about 1,800 people waiting for a transplant in Ontario and some will die before receiving their "Gift of Life". One of the main reasons I became a volunteer to promote organ and tissue donation was because I saw so many people die while on the waiting list. Some had become my friends and it hurt me to no end when they didn't make it. In 2004, 122 people died while on the waiting list.
Tuesday, the Trillium Gift of Life Network, the provincial agency in charge of organ and tissue donations, announced an Ottawa hospital was the first in Canada to successfully transplant organs from a woman who died of heart failure after life support was removed.
Ontario is the first province in Canada to accept organs from people who have died of a heart attack. Until now, as stated above, the practice was to remove organs from patients declared brain dead but whose hearts are still beating.
Those hospitals that have the surgeons and skills will start with kidney transplants and expand to lungs and livers as expertise develops.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM), the SCCM (Society of Critical Care Medicine) and the JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation
of Hospital Organizations) have concluded that Deceased Cardiac Death (DCD) is an ethically proper approach of recoveriing organs from a deceased patient for the purpose of transplantation.
Last year, The Canadian Council of Donation and Transplantation convened a forum in Vancouver, British Columbia whose report promotes “patient-care based principles for providing the option of donation within a sound ethical framework” and supports donation after cardiocirculatory death. The aim of this national conference is to expand the practiice of DCD in the continuum of quality end-of-life care..
For the full conference PDF report go to: Report of a National Conference on Donation after Cardiiac Death.
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Some countries have been doing DCD transplants for several years and a comprehensive overview can be found in the Annual Report of the U. S. Organ Procurement and Transplantion Network/Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. See the chapter on Kidney & Pancreas Transplants and read how DCD transplants have improved kidney donor rates as well as survival statistics: Chapter V - Kidney & Pancreas Transplantation