Canadian Innovations In Organ Donation And Transplantation
Education and Advocacy Making organ donations and transplants more accessible is at the forefront of Canadian health care.
Canadian health professionals have globally led the way in many aspects of transplant research, policy, advocacy, and organ donation.
However, many challenges remain. Among them are a severe shortage of organ donors and poor deceased donation rates in many Canadian jurisdictions. Canadian transplant teams have developed innovative solutions to this problem. One example is using “ex-vivo” technologies, a revolutionary advancement whereby marginal donor organs can be assessed and potentially repaired outside of the human body. First developed for assessment of lungs, and now for livers, kidneys, and hearts, this technology means that previously unsuitable or damaged donor organs can now be successfully transplanted with positive outcomes. Other solutions to the organ donor shortage have related to strategies to improve living organ donation. Canada has a very successful cross-country living kidney paired-donation program, where pairs of donors and recipients can exchange kidneys with other compatible pairs from anywhere in the country.
Canadian health professionals have also led the way in ethics and policy related to potentially contentious issues such as anonymous living donors and public solicitation of organ donors through social media and other outlets. Canadian researchers have played a major role in improving the long-term outcomes of transplantation. One example is through the development of optimal strategies and international guidelines related to prevention of common infections after transplant, as well as best practices related to antirejection medications.
In summary, organ transplantation is a true miracle of modern medicine and Canadians should be proud of their major contributions to the field.