THE Kidney Foundation of Canada (BC and Yukon Branch) recently released Kidney Transplants: British Columbians Have Spoken, a report detailing the opinions of over 2,500 British Columbians on the challenges and solutions needed to address the urgent state of kidney transplantation and organ donor registration in BC.
“We know that a kidney transplant cannot cure kidney disease, but it is a kidney patient’s best hope for a better quality of life,” says Karen Philp, Executive Director, The Kidney Foundation of Canada (BC and Yukon Branch). “Right now the demand for kidney transplants far exceeds the supply and with British Columbians facing some of the longest wait times in Canada, this means far too many kidney patients will die waiting. This is not acceptable. We need to act now to change this situation.”
Kidney Transplants: British Columbians Have Spoken summarizes hundreds of insights and ideas from British Columbians, addressing critical issues faced by kidney patients and their families and how to help improve their quality of life.
Three of the top recommendations identified by British Columbians included:
1) Confusion and difficulty around the process of registering to be an organ door topped the list. British Columbians feel strongly that increased accessibility is key to help increase the very low organ donor registration rates, and this included unanimous support to return to the process of organ donor registration with driver’s license renewal.
2) Lack of awareness about kidney disease and how serious it is, not just by the general public but also by high-risk populations and even family doctors, was a dominant theme throughout the research. To address these issues, British Columbians called for an innovative public awareness and media campaign, mandatory education for family doctors and more high-profile public engagement opportunities including community gatherings.
3) Financial barriers (such as travel costs related to transplant surgery and loss of income while recovering from surgery) for both transplant recipients and living organ donors was another big concern. British Columbians said examination of current financial programs and how they can better support living kidney donors and kidney transplant recipients who live outside Vancouver is needed.
Philp goes on to say The Kidney Foundation of Canada is committed to increasing organ donor registration and kidney transplants by 50% over the next five years. “Our research, together with the recommendations coming out of this report, represents an important first step for us in achieving this goal and it will inform where we go from here.”
Research undertaken for the report included speaking with British Columbians through focus groups, online polling, a provincial survey and 12 community meetings held in Abbotsford,
Courtenay, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Penticton, Prince George, Richmond, Surrey, Terrace, Trail, Vancouver, and Victoria.
Kidney patient Teresa Atkinson, who is on the kidney transplant wait list, says. “For people like me who will die without a kidney transplant, these are hopeful times. The public obviously cares about the issue, and that can only help our cause.”
To download full report: