Friday, February 13, 2009

New Canadian registry aims to raise kidney donations and save lives

Ottawa, February 12, 2009 - Canadian Blood Services has publicly launched the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry, a new and innovative registry that is designed to facilitate kidney donations among live donors and further help Canadians suffering from life-threatening kidney disease.

The Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry is a unique development for Canada's healthcare system, and represents completion of the first major deliverable under Canadian Blood Services' newly created Organs and Tissues division.

"The launch of this new registry is a great achievement for our organization and demonstrates the importance we are placing on our new mandate, which includes registries that will coordinate organ and tissue donations across Canada," said Dr. Graham D. Sher, Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Blood Services. "Since receiving this new mandate from the provinces and territories in August 2008, we have worked hard to deliver results for Canadians. Our stakeholders told us they wanted action, and we've listened."

The registry is designed to match live kidney donors with suitable recipients who are suffering from end stage renal disease (kidney disease) and in need of a transplant. Frequently, healthy and motivated Canadians are unable to be living kidney donors because their blood group or tissue type is incompatible with their intended recipient - such as a friend or relative.

In a paired exchange, these live kidney donors - healthy people who donate one of their two kidneys - are matched with other compatible recipients. Once an acceptable match is made, a swap occurs between two sets of kidney donors and recipients.

The more pairs that register, the greater the chances of finding compatible kidney matches. The Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry will dramatically increase the pool of living kidney donors across Canada and bring together people who are motivated to help those in need of a transplant.

There is a rising need for kidney donors in Canada. Currently, about 35,000 Canadians suffer from kidney disease and 3,000 people in this country are on waiting lists for a kidney transplant, according to the Canadian Organ Replacement Register (CORR). In 2007, there were nearly 1,200 kidney transplants performed in Canada, with about 480 coming from live donors. Live kidney donations have been growing in recent years, while kidney donations from deceased donors have been growing at a much slower pace.

No one knows the importance of live donations more than Ottawa resident Gene Borys. In need of a kidney transplant, Mr. Borys' wife, Kelly Shannon, wanted to give him one of her two healthy kidneys. However, she was not a compatible match. But the selflessness of an anonymous live kidney donor set off a chain reaction that saved several lives, and resulted in the region's first "domino surgery" in late 2008 at The Ottawa Hospital. Recipients from two donor pairs and one person on the waiting list received kidneys in this procedure.

What possesses someone to give a stranger one of their working kidneys? Just ask former school teacher Kathryn McIntyre. At the end of 2008, Ms. McIntyre offered one of her healthy kidneys to whoever needed it most through The Toronto General Hospital's transplant program. Her generosity resulted in four people receiving kidneys, and the first domino surgery in Canada that involved eight people. "Why do it? Because I can," said Ms. McIntyre.

While these two transplant surgical procedures did not result from the new registry, they are a testament to the power of live donations.

"The Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry is a major advance for kidney donations and transplants in this country," said Dr. Peter Nickerson, Executive Medical Director of Organ Transplantation at Canadian Blood Services. "Creating a centralized registry such as this gives us critical mass, greatly increases the chances of finding suitable matches, and more living donors will have their wishes fulfilled. Canadians in need will now be able to get compatible kidneys faster, and that will save lives."

Canadian Blood Services forecasts that the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry will increase live kidney donations in Canada by 20 per cent or more. Other benefits to be realized from the new registry include:

  • Greater access to a larger pool of living kidney donors

  • Reduced wait times for kidney transplants

  • Improved health outcomes for patients with end stage kidney disease

  • Establishment of a national registry that will provide access to all transplant programs and ensure quality, consistent data for future matches and research

Medical studies conducted in Canada and the United States have found that transplants are more cost-effective than dialysis for treatment of end stage kidney disease. In the U.S., studies have shown that kidney transplants conducted through paired donations save the healthcare system an average of $1 million per transplant compared to the costs associated with long-term kidney dialysis.

The Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry is now live and has been populated with 23 pairs and growing. Pilot transplant programs through the registry are being conducted in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, with other provinces to be added shortly.

About Canadian Blood Services
Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the supply of blood and blood products in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec. Canadian Blood Services also oversees the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, and provides national leadership for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Canadian Blood Services operates 40 permanent collection sites and more than 20,000 donor clinics annually. The provincial and territorial Ministries of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system. For more information, please visit the Web site.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register

In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

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