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Program innovations, along with increased numbers of deceased donors in Ontario, helped UHN's Multi Organ Transplant (MOT) Program set a record for transplants performed last year with 535.
"This propels us into the ranks of the top transplant programs internationally, and we are the largest program in Canada," says Dr. Atul Humar, Medical Director of the MOT Program at UHN.
"But it is not just the experience we have in doing so many transplants. Our outcomes exceed international standards even though we take on some of the most complex cases."
There was an increase in numbers of transplants in all organ groups, particularly lung and liver.
The lung transplant program – now the largest in the world – performed 123 last year, with about one-third of them due to the innovative Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion System. This system for high-risk donor lungs, a world-first pioneered at Toronto General Hospital (TGH) in 2008, treats, improves and assesses the function of donor lungs, making many more available for transplant.
TGH performed 203 adult and pediatric liver transplants, of which 64 were living donor liver transplants, including adult to child recipient, making this the largest living liver donor transplant program in North America.
"Living donation is an important part of our transplant program because it's a way to ensure patients get a transplant when they need it, without waiting for long periods of time or dying while they wait," says Dr. Humar, pointing to Canadian data showing from 15 per cent to 30 per cent of those on transplant waiting lists for most organs will die before getting a transplant.
Dr. Humar also notes that the criteria for accepting organs, such as kidneys, for transplantation have been expanded to include organs from "marginal" or "extended criteria" donors, typically those who are older than 60, or who have hypertension or diabetes.
National Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness WeekApril 19 - 25, 2015
"We're pushing the boundaries, using organs from donors that 10 years ago we would not have used," says Dr. Humar. "And yet our results are excellent, better than international benchmarks."
MOT regularly exceeds accepted U.S. benchmarks for one-year and 10-year survival of recipients.
For example, the accepted survival rate of kidney recipients from living donors at TGH is 88 per cent compared to the accepted standard of 78 per cent. For living donor liver recipients, the survival rate is 72 per cent at 10 years compared to 67 per cent. At one year for lung transplant patients, TGH has a survival rate of 82 per cent compared to 77 per cent.
In Ontario, at any point in time, there are 1,500 patients waiting for an organ transplant, and someone dies every three days while waiting. Yet, less than one-quarter of eligible Ontarians have registered consent to donate.
Canada's deceased organ donation rate is also low. At about 14.0 deceased donors per one million population, it is about half the rates of the best-performing countries such as Spain, which is at 32.
Each donor can provide up to eight organs for transplantation. Please register at
www.beadonor.ca and talk to your family about your wishes to donate.