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Record number of organ transplants performed in Alberta in 2022

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Credit: LethbridgeNews NOW, David Opinko

LETHBRIDGE, AB – Alberta Health Services (AHS) is reporting its highest-ever number of organ transplants in a single year.

In 2022, they say 491 organ transplants were performed in the province, exceeding the previous record of 462 set in 2017.

Last year’s total includes 107 liver transplants and 254 kidney transplants, both of which constitute their own records. Alberta’s deceased donation rate of 21 donors per one million population was the highest on record in Alberta and among the largest in Canada.

AHS Critical Care Physician and Organ Donation Specialist Dr. Andreas Kramer commended residents for stepping up to help others who are in need.

“We have worked hard to ensure the option of donation is a routine part of end-of-life care. By raising awareness and having those conversations about organ and tissue donation, we can empower families to consider the option,’ said Kramer.

 Kramer adds that part of the reason for the increased number is the implementation of the Specialist in End-of-Life Care, Neuroprognostication and Donation (SEND) program in 2021.

The SEND team consists of 22 intensive care physicians who provide education and consultation with healthcare teams to identify and care for potential organ donors.

Health Minister Jason Copping said, while it is unfortunate that there will always be a need for people to donate their organs, he is glad to see so many people who are willing to help out.

“Through increased awareness and education, our hope is that all Albertans discuss the option of organ and tissue donation with their loved ones,” said Copping. “It’s an extraordinary gift that can save and improve lives for hundreds of people waiting for a transplant.”

Bill 205, the Human Tissue and Organ Donation (Mandatory Referral) Amendment Act, was implemented on April 1, 2023. Highwood MLA RJ Sigurdson said it creates a more structured pathway for the organ donation process and ensures that specialists have adequate time to identify and assess potential organ donors.

AHS said a single donor could save up to eight lives and improve the lives of 75 others who could receive tissues from a donor.

More than 844,000 Albertans are regis