Life Reporter The Toronto Star
Amidst the controversial revelations in Wednesday’s report from Auditor General Jim McCarter, there was good news for those awaiting organ transplants.
Two years ago, McCarter slammed the province for “serious deficiencies,” highlighting seven key areas for improvement. But his update, included with this year’s report, is decidedly more positive.
His call for Ontario-wide wait lists for kidneys and livers has already been implemented for livers and will be in place for kidneys next year. Previously, livers were separated between London and Toronto; kidneys are still divided into five regional wait lists, so organs aren’t allocated to the highest-priority recipient across the province.
That has contributed to wildly differing wait times across the province — from four years for a kidney in areas such as London and Sudbury, where donor rates reach as high as 44 per cent, to nine years in the GTA, which has a donor rate of 14 per cent.
Amalgamating those lists into one will begin in June. As of then, every pair of kidneys from a deceased donor will be divided: one will remain local and one will go to the highest priority case provincially. And by the end of 2013, there will only be a provincial list, says Ronnie Gavsie, CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN), the provincial agency mandated with organ and tissue donor system. “We expect wait times to go dramatically down (as a result),” she said.
The 2010 report also noted that only 21 hospitals capable of keeping patients on life support were required to alert TGLN of these potential donors. That number has now doubled from 21 to 45, with the rest of the 61 hospitals phasing in by March of 2014.
In addition, it’s now mandatory for all hospital departments to report potential donors, not just intensive care units and emergency departments, as it was previously. That’s expected to also increase donations of tissue like corneas, bones, skin and heart valves, another of McCarter’s concerns in 2010. Currently Ontario imports 80 per cent of its tissue.
Two other recommendations have already been implemented: the Be a Donor website was created, and ServiceOntario employees now ask people renewing their driver’s licence for their consent.
Gavsie gives McCarter credit for the push. “There is positive movement forward, in every recommendation,” she says.