BC Transplant announced today that 529 people received an organ transplant in 2021, setting a new record for the total number of transplants in a calendar year.
Of that total, 171 transplants took place at St. Paul’s Hospital – 22 heart transplants and 149 kidney transplants.
BC Transplant also announced that a record-breaking 150 deceased organ donors gave the gift of life in BC in 2021, 23 per cent more than the previous record of 122 deceased donors in 2018.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, BC Transplant says hospital-based critical care teams – which play a key role in identifying organ donors – referred potential donors to the 24/7 BC Transplant clinical referral line a record 775 times in 2021 (a 25 per cent increase over 2020). This demonstrates how organ donation is increasingly becoming a normal part of quality end-of-life care in hospital.
Russel Stevenson, a 58 year-old from Vernon who loved living in the Okanagan with his wife Sylvie and riding his motorcycle, donated his liver, pancreas, lungs, and both kidneys. Sylvie says that despite how difficult it was to lose him, it gives her comfort to think about the people Russel helped: “As much as I was hurting, I think about the recipients and their reaction when they got that call that an organ was available,” she recalls. “I wish them all the best with their second chance at life and wish for them to take advantage of Russel’s gifts.”
Russel’s organ donation contributed to several new transplant records last year – 66 lung transplants, 97 liver transplants, and 340 kidney transplants.
Rob Hammerschmidt, whose first kidney transplant was failing, is grateful to have received the call for a second transplant in 2021. “Because of my transplant I can get back to living my life to the fullest, not connected to a dialysis machine, and I look forward to start travelling the world again with my wife.”
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“Thank you to the hundreds of health professionals who work in a coordinated way across the province to champion and support organ donation and transplantation,” says Eric Lun, BC Transplant’s executive director. “In yet another extraordinary year, their combined efforts have given a record 529 transplant recipients the chance to improve or save their lives.”
All transplants in BC take place in one of three transplant centres in Vancouver: BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital.
Despite a record-setting year, 585 people were still waiting for an organ transplant in BC as of December 31, 2021. Register your decision about organ donation at www.taketwominutes.ca
This story was adapted from a BC Transplant news release.
Related story: 50 years of saving lives through organ donation and transplant in BC