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Record-breaking number of organs donated in B.C. in 2023

563 people received a new organ last year, but another 514 patients remain on waitlist

A record-breaking 563 people were given a second shot at life in B.C. last year, thanks to organ donors.

The Provincial Health Services Authority says it’s the largest number of successful transplants on record since 2021, when 529 people received an organ.

The donated kidneys, livers, lungs, hearts and pancreases came from 77 living donors and 160 deceased ones in 2023. While the number of living donors has fluctuated from year to year, the number of deceased ones is steadily rising.

In 2015, 95 British Columbians donated their kidneys after death. The 160 deceased donors recorded last year is a record in B.C.

One of them, Michael Brown, was a 36-year-old Vancouver man who died in a surfing accident in Tofino. His wife, Jaclyn Ko, said in PHSA’s news release that Brown was always unwavering in his desire to care for people in need.

“Now, through organ donation, his legacy of compassion lives on.”

The number of British Columbians signed up to donate organs if they die has also increased over the years. In 2023, close to 1.6 million people were registered organ donors, compared to 967,918 in 2015.

Health Minister Adrian Dix called the decision to donate “truly inspiring.” He added that the behind-the-scenes work that goes into organ donation is enormous. At least 150 health care professionals are involved in every donor case, according to Dr. John Yee, the provincial medical director of the lung transplant program.

PHSA says 2023’s numbers make B.C. the leader in organ donation in Canada, with 28.8 deceased donors per million people.

Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows B.C. had 29.8 deceased donors per million people in 2022, compared to 21.8 in Ontario and Alberta and 21 in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Globally, the highest rate of organ donation was in the United States (41.6 per million people), Spain (40.8 per million people) and Iceland (36.7 per million people) in 2021.

Despite B.C.’s record-breaking year, 514 people remain in need of organs as of Jan. 2, 2024. Six people died in 2023 while waiting for a transplant.

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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