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Record number of organ donors in B.C. in 2023

A record-breaking 563 people received organ transplants in 2023 thanks to the generosity of a record 160 deceased organ donors and their families and 77 living donors.

Now more than 6100 British Columbians are alive today because of organ donation.

“Organ donation is such a selfless gift and when we register to become an organ donor we feel great,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Living donors who choose to undergo surgery to save a life and deceased donors and their families who make such a courageous decision amidst their profound loss are truly inspiring, along with all the health care professionals who support organ donation and transplantation across our province.”

After a tragic surfing accident in Tofino, Michael Brown became one of the 160 deceased donors who gave the gift of life last year. The 36-year-old Vancouver man was a registered organ donor.

“Michael always tried to live life to the fullest,” said his wife, Jaclyn Ko. “One of his most enduring traits was his unwavering commitment to care for those in need. Now, through organ donation, his legacy of compassion lives on.”

Michael’s generosity contributed to several other milestones achieved in 2023. There were a record number of liver transplants (112 compared to 101 in 2022), a record number of lung transplants (77 compared to the previous record of 66 in 2021), a record number of kidney transplants (353 compared to the previous record of 342 in 2021), as well as 22 heart transplants and 12 pancreas and islet transplants. (Numbers include multi-organ transplants, of which there was a new record of eight combined kidney/pancreas transplants.)

“Upwards of 150 health care professionals are involved in one donor case, from organ recovery to transplant,” said Dr. John Yee, provincial medical director of the lung transplant program. “It is an incredibly complicated medical undertaking, but it is such a privilege to witness our patients transform from critically ill to healthy individuals who are able to return to life.”

BC Transplant continues to invest in foundational elements to support health partners to increase donation and transplantation. This includes education of health care professionals and donation physicians and a robust network of in-hospital transplant coordinators. Hospital referrals of potential deceased donors reached a record 989 times in 2023, which is up 13 per cent from the previous year of 875 referrals.

B.C.’s deceased donors per million rate is 28.8, making it the leader in Canada and placing it amongst the top jurisdictions in the world for deceased donation. This is testament to the work BC Transplant has done, together with all the donor hospital teams around the province, to build the systems and infrastructure capacity of organ donation and transplant programs, and to normalize conversations around organ donation.

“All the donors and families who have consented to organ donation have made a deep and profound impact on hundreds of British Columbians,” said Dr. Sean Keenan, provincial medical director of donations services at BC Transplant. “We believe every family has the right to consider organ donation at the end of life, and we are committed to providing compassion and support to donor families.”

As of December 31, 2023, there are 512 people still waiting for their second chance at life. It takes two minutes to register as an organ donor, and British Columbians are encouraged to take action at and then share their decision with loved ones.

Quick Facts:

  • B.C. surpassed the milestone of 6000 people alive today because of organ donation in August 2023. As of December 31, 2023, there are 6156 British Columbians alive today because of organ donation.
  • In October 2023, there were 20 deceased donors, the highest number in a single month in BC Transplant history.
  • At the end of July 2023, the liver transplant program at Vancouver General Hospital performed an incredible eight liver transplants within seven days.
  • The latest international data from 2021 indicates the top five countries in the world for deceased donation by donors per million (DPM) are: United States (41.6 DPM), Spain (40.8 DPM), Iceland (36.7 DPM), Portugal (29.6 DPM) and Croatia (29.5 DPM).

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