B.C. sets record for lung and heart transplants despite COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. hospitals performed a record number of lung and heart transplants in 2020, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifty-five people received a lung transplant last year, and 33 others, including three children, were the recipients of a new heart, according to a February 17 Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) bulletin

“The success of organ transplant is a transformative feat of expertise, coordination and caring through the province, in every health authority,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in the release. “A total of 451 people in B.C. received a life-saving transplant in 2020. Today, there are 5,491 British Columbians alive thanks to the incredible generosity of organ donors.”

Along with the record lung and heart transplants, another 80 people obtained new livers, which matches that transplant program’s 2017 record high. As well, kidney-transplant numbers were high, with 280 being performed (two of the liver transplants involved kidneys).

In total, 110 people in B.C. donated organs after their deaths in 2020, and another 81 living donors offered up a kidney.

B.C. has three transplant centres, all in Vancouver. They are located at St. Paul’s Hospital, B.C. Children’s Hospital, and Vancouver General Hospital. B.C. Transplant is a program within the PHSA.

Vancouver actor Jason Gray-Stanford received a new heart in 2020 after an unexpected heart failure. “Because of my transplant, I now have the freedom to do everything that I used to do and then some,” Gray-Stanford said in the release. “This heart is a gift for which I am forever grateful, and one that I shall never squander.”

Another grateful transplant recipient is Beth Miller, who received new lungs in 2020. “After years of struggling for breath, one generous donor and their family made a selfless decision on their absolute worst day, and now I have the gift of healthy lungs. I am eternally grateful to them, and to the incredibly caring transplant team.”

Although about 1.5 million people are on B.C.’s Organ Donor Registry, there were still 737 names on the waiting list for transplants as of January 1 this year.

To obtain further information about becoming a donor, go here.

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