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Wait list for organ donation shrinking, but Quebec can do better

Surgical instruments are used during an organ transplant surgery on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Molly Riley) Surgical instruments are used during an organ transplant surgery on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Molly Riley)
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The list of people waiting for an organ donation in Quebec is shrinking, according to new data released by Transplant Québec on Wednesday.

The data show a 17 per cent increase in the number of people receiving transplants and a record number of donations in 2023.

By Dec. 31, 853 people were registered on the wait list managed by Transplant Québec, the organization coordinating organ donations across the province.

On the same date in 2022, 913 people were waiting for an organ transplant.

In addition, the number of referrals increased by almost 35 per cent to 1,156 in 2023.

Of these, 270 were eligible referrals, including 21 donors who received medical aid in dying (MAID); 151 MAID referrals failed to qualify.

According to Transplant Québec Executive Director Martine Bouchard, although the indicators for 2023 are encouraging, the number of potential donors is still below what Quebec could achieve.

"In concrete terms, this means that people in need of an organ and on our wait list are currently dying while we know we can do better," she said.

Among other highlights from the 2023 review, wait times are at an all-time low for lung transplant recipients, with an average wait of 57 days; the number of people waiting for a heart is the shortest it has been in 10 years, with 32 people on the waiting list.

The number of organs transplanted increased by 20 per cent, due in particular to 206 deceased donors, who gave 696 organs.

The metropolitan region remains the best performer on a per capita basis, with a rate of 26.3 potential donors per 100,000 inhabitants.

Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec ranks second with a rate of 19.3, followed by Capitale-Nationale with a rate of 16.8.

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region, which had one of the lowest rates in Quebec in recent years, increased its number of referrals by 230 per cent, reaching a rate of 11.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.

-- The Canadian Press health content is funded through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 28, 2024. 

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