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Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation – System Progress Report 2018

March 2, 2020 – Canadian Blood Services is pleased to deliver its latest System Progress Report for Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation (OTDT). The 2018 report was completed in collaboration with Canada’s organ donation organizations, and with the financial support of Health Canada and the provincial and territorial governments.  

In 2018, the generous gifts of 1,317 organ donors and 4,824 tissue donors and their families saved or improved the lives of thousands of Canadian patients. 

This latest data shows Canada’s performance in terms of deceased organ donation and transplantation remains stable, experiencing only a minor decline when compared to the previous year’s results. Inversely, living donation rates nationally have improved slightly.  

In 2018, a total of 223 Canadians died while waiting for a suitable transplant opportunity. For every patient in Canada who receives a lifesaving organ transplant, there are two on a waitlist. As such, there remains much work yet to be done.  

The results reflected in this report represent the individual and collective work of the provincial and territorial partners, organ donation programs, and transplant programs as well as the national efforts led by Canadian Blood Services. 

Quick stats from the 2018 System Progress 

  • The generous gifts of 1,317 organ donors and 4,824 tissue donors and their families saved or improved the lives of thousands of Canadian patients. 
  • 2,829 Canadians received a life changing transplant.  
  • 2018 saw the first decline in deceased donation in eight years, resulting in a 6% drop in the national transplant rate compared to 2017. 
  • In 2018, there were 762 deceased organ donors in Canada. In addition, there were 555 living organ donors. 
  • The Kidney Paired Donation program has facilitated an average of three transplants every two weeks from 2010 to 2018, transplants that wouldn’t have been possible without interprovincial organ sharing. 
  • Canada still has a shortage of organs, with approximately 4,351 patients waiting for transplants at year’s end 2018. 
  • In 2018, 223 Canadians died while waiting for a transplant, down from 242 in 2017. 

“Given Canadian Blood Services’ experience as the national coordinating body for OTDT in Canada and our knowledge of the components required for success, we believe that national priorities in this realm must continue to focus on strategies that will advance interprovincial organ sharing, improve living donation rates, assist jurisdictions as they implement leading practices, and enhance system performance measurements and accountability mechanisms. Patients with the greatest need, and those whose clinical profiles are most difficult to match, benefit when organs are shared across provincial boundaries.” 

  • Dr. Graham D. Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services 

“We seem to have hit a new plateau in living donation rates, which means as a country we have to drill down on how to get system performance to the next level. To be on par with countries like the United States, where rates are far ahead of ours, we need to make improving practice in jurisdictions with low rates a key focus. Given the wide variation in practice across Canada today, believe we have a huge opportunity to improve living kidney donation rates.” 

  • Dr. Peter Nickerson, Medical Advisor, System Performance, Data and Transplantation, Canadian Blood Services 

“Organ donation is a gift of life. The donation and transplant system in Canada is deeply grateful to the increasing number of Canadians who have donated organs to save other Canadians. While there has been a slight decrease in donors and transplants over a single year from 2017 to 2018, the system has performed extremely well over the past decade. Over the past 10 years, there has been 57% increase in the number of Canadians who have donated organs after their tragic death. This has led to a 35% increase in the number of life-saving or life-preserving transplants performed and a decrease in the number of patients on the waiting list.” 

  • Dr. Sam Shemie, Medical Advisor, Deceased Donation, Canadian Blood Services 


Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation – System Progress Report 2018 (PDF)