Quebec Is Getting More Donated Organs Than Ever Before — Here's What Changed

Transplant Québec saw record donations in the past year.

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Someone on a stretcher is lifted into a Montreal ambulance by paramedics.

Someone on a stretcher is lifted into a Montreal ambulance by paramedics.

February is all about hearts — both the paper cut-out and actual organ kinds. But, apparently, so is every other month in Quebec, since a major law change has tripled organ donations over the past five years and put the province in the company of very few countries. Nowadays, most donors are also conscious when they consent to the practice.

In a February 8 report, Transplant Québec revealed it had received a record number of organ donation referrals last year, including a 130% spike in organ donations through medical assistance in dying (MAID). Right now, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain are the only countries that accept MAID organ donation.

"The practice of organ donation in a MAID context is recent. It requires significant adaptation to standard practices used by Transplant Québec and health establishments, due to the fact that the donor is able to give their consent," said Sylvain Lavigne, Director of Nursing and External Partnerships at Transplant Québec.

Around 15% of organ donors in Quebec last year were linked to MAID and a majority (85%) had a primary diagnosis of neurodegenerative or neurological disease.

Medical assistance in dying only became legal in Quebec as of December 2015. The first two instances of MAID-related organ donation took place in 2017.

Transplant Québec suggests MAID organ donors in Quebec could see an increase of 366 donors compared to the year before.

"Not only is this an opportunity to increase the number of organ donors in Quebec, but it's also an incredible opportunity to allow more people to benefit from a transplant," said Martine Bouchard, Executive Director of Transplant Québec.

According to the organization, Quebec recorded an unprecedented number of lung transplants, which reduced the number of people waiting for a replacement organ last year to the lowest-ever level. Wait times have also decreased significantly over the past decade for people in need of a lung (87%) or kidney (60%) transplant.

It seems Quebecers are more willing than ever to do (and give) their part to help those awaiting the life-saving treatment.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Sofia Misenheimer
MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Sofia Misenheimer is an award-winning writer, editor and former radio journalist with a passion for finding hidden gems in the city.