Organ donor rates stagnate; kidneys most needed

Download the reports:


February 13, 2012—Both living and deceased donor rates have stagnated since 2006, according to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). The living donor rate in 2010 was 16.3 per million population, compared with 17.0 in 2006. In 2010, the deceased rate was 13.6 donors per million population; it was 14.0 in 2006. While the latest rates are above 2001 levels, the need for organs still outpaces the supply—meaning the gap between donations and the need for transplants is growing.

During 2010, 229 patients died while waiting for organs. The end of the year saw 501 patients waiting for a liver, 135 for a heart, 310 for a lung and 98 for a pancreas. The vast majority of people waiting—3,362 patients—needed a kidney.

For those Canadians who received a kidney from a deceased donor, the median time spent on dialysis was 3.7 years. Those patients with an available living donor were on dialysis for just less than 1.5 years.

This has substantial cost implications for the health care system. CIHI’s estimated cost for hemodialysis treatment is approximately $60,000 per patient per year, while the one-time cost for a kidney transplant is approximately $23,000, plus $6,000 per year for medication necessary to maintain the transplant. Over a five-year period, a transplant is therefore approximately $250,000 cheaper per patient than dialysis while improving quality of life.

Other highlights of the report include the following:

  • The number of organ donors and the number of transplants performed in Canada has remained virtually unchanged since 2006. In 2010, 557 living organ donors and 465 deceased organ donors contributed to 2,103 solid organ transplants; in 2006, 556 living donors and 461 deceased donors contributed to 2,074 transplant procedures.
  • The year 2010 saw more than 5,600 patients newly diagnosed with kidney failure, more than double the number diagnosed in 1991 (2,600).
  • More than one in three people with kidney failure have diabetes.
  • In 2010, 39,352 Canadians were living with kidney failure; 16,164 (41%) were living with functioning kidney transplants, and 23,188 (59%) were on dialysis.

Waiting List on December 31, 2010, Compared With Transplants Performed During 2010


Canadian Organ Replacement Register, 2010, Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Media contacts:

Sandra Koppert
Cell: 613-297-7792

Crystal Mohr
Cell: 613-612-3808

About CIHI

Established in 1994, CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that provides essential information on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians. Funded by federal, provincial and territorial governments, CIHI is guided by a Board of Directors made up of health leaders across the country. Our vision is to improve Canada’s health system and the well-being of Canadians by being a leading source of unbiased, credible and comparable information that will enable health leaders to make better-informed decisions.