Living organ donation: helping people live on

In honour of National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, we’re putting a spotlight on one of the biggest challenges in transplantation: the lack of donor organs.

With transplant wait lists growing, living organ donation is critical to bridging this gap. Living organ donation is when an individual donates a kidney or part of their liver to save the life of someone with organ failure. Transplantation of living donor organs shortens wait times and helps people live longer and healthier lives compared with other treatments.

“I donated my kidney to a stranger, so my wife Joanne could receive a kidney. It was the most extraordinary experience of my life,” says Brendan Cahill, living kidney donor, founding supporter of the Centre for Living Organ Donation at TGH and volunteer for the Transplant Program’s Live On fundraising campaign. “I think of others suffering from organ disease who aren’t fortunate enough to have a donor. We met many of them through our journey. The terrible loneliness of not having a loved one to offer this simple gift haunts me. That loneliness cannot be acceptable in our Canada.”

Today, half of the kidney transplants and almost a third of the liver transplants at TGH are made possible through living organ donation – making TGH one of the leading hubs for living organ donation in North America. But there’s more work to be done to ensure more patients suffering have the chance to live on.

“UHN is a centre that has committed itself to organ donation and transplantation as a priority program. This isn’t just about patients getting transplants done. It’s about patients getting one transplant for life,” says Dr. Kathryn Tinckam, transplant nephrologist and Director of Quality Improvement & Innovation, Transplant Program, TGH.

With your help, we will establish the Centre for Living Organ Donation at TGH, the first centre in Canada to care for living organ donors – for life. Setting the gold standard in care for living donors, the Centre will increase living organ donation rates by 50% and enable other transplant centres to optimize living organ donation and transplantation – for all Canadians. To support the Centre, please click here.