Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Ontario leads Canada with more than 100 donations after cardiac death

Toronto, ON – Ontario is the nation’s leader in organ Donation After Cardiac Death (DCD). Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) announced the landmark achievement of more than 100 DCD cases performed in 22 hospitals in Ontario.

“As a direct result of 100 cases of DCD, 246 lives were saved through the transplantation of lungs, livers, kidneys and pancreases. As well, 63 per cent of the DCD cases also resulted in donated tissue including bones, eyes, heart valves and skin,” said Frank Markel, President and CEO of TGLN. “DCD is a proven best practice to improve donation performance and has contributed to Ontario’s record success in saving lives. Without the collaboration and strong support of many hospitals and physicians, this improvement would not be possible.”

Historically transplantation of organs and tissue from deceased donors was first done after a person’s death had been determined by cardiac criteria – when their hearts had stopped beating. Later, determination of death for organ and tissue donation purposes was done according to strict neurological criteria (brain death). This became the only accepted determination of death before the first DCD case in Canada in the modern era was performed when Emile and Beth Therien made the decision to remove their daughter, Sarah Beth, from life support. The Therien family wanted to honor Sarah Beth’s wishes to be an organ donor.

"Sarah Beth's legacy as an organ and tissue donor and the wonderful memories we have of her will always sustain us during very difficult times. In death, Sarah Beth became a medical pioneer. For the first time in Canada,in the modern era, cardiac death, not brain death, was the criterion for allowing transplants. We are further consoled knowing that since that historic medical breakthrough at the Ottawa Hospital on June 17, 2006 many more lives have been saved. My family's experience as a donor family really speaks to the importance of the responsibility that health care systems have to honor families’ requests, particularly with donation after cardiac death, as it serves the public good," said the Theriens.

DCD offers families the option of donation in cases where neurological criteria for death have not been met. DCD is carried out only after a prior and independent decision by the family and treating physician has been made to withdraw life-sustaining treatment.DCD follows pronouncement of death, and is based on “irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory function.”

Today in Ontario, 17 per cent of deceased organ donations are a result of DCD, while brain death accounts for 83 per cent. Ontario ranks in the upper quartile for percent of DCD cases among the organ procurement organizations in the United States.

“DCD in Ontario has truly been a remarkable improvement. Lives have been saved through a better organized system. People in Ontario really value the gift of life, and now we are in a better position to help them give that gift,” said Dr. Andrew Baker, Chief of Critical Care at St. Michael’s Hospital.

For a list of Ontario the centers that contributed to the increase in deceased organ donations read the backgrounder

DCD is an opportunity for families to support the wishes of their loved ones to save and enhance more lives at the end of life. TGLN encourages Ontarians to register their consent to donate organs and tissue and talk to their families about their wishes.

In Ontario, you can register your consent to donate your organs and tissue by going to the TGLN web site below or by visiting your local ServiceOntario Health Card Services – OHIP office or outreach center where you renew your health card.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network. NEW for Ontario: - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! 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 (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help 75 to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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