Canada is one of the only countries in the western world without a national, coordinated system for organ and tissue donation and transplantation (OTDT). The system as it stands today is at capacity, and is struggling to cope with current needs and projected future demand.
In April 2008, Canadian Blood Services was given a mandate by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Deputy Ministers of Health (excluding Quebec) to develop – in consultation with stakeholders, the public, and the medical community – a recommendation for a new national system for Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation (OTDT).
In September 2008, an initial stakeholder consultation was held to discuss the situation. More than 130 representatives from transplantation, donation, administration, Intensive Care Units, Emergency Room, tissue banks, Organ Procurement Organizations, patients, donor families, living donors, government and ethical/legal organizations were brought together. It was recommended that OTDT could best be served by a nationally coordinated system, but there were differences in opinion on roles, responsibilities and technical details of how the system should operate.
In May 2009, three committees were struck, a Steering Committee made up of 12 prominent experts in public healthcare policy, and two expert committees, one focused on organs and the other on tissues. These committees met throughout 2009-2010 and together with the OTDT communities and Canadian Blood Services, delivered Call to Action: A strategic plan to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation performance for Canadians to deputy ministers of health in April 2011. This document is currently under review.
Governments remain committed to improving OTDT in Canada, and on May 24, 2012, provincial and territorial governments gave their approval for moving forward on the national system. We will continue to work closely with governments and stakeholders on next steps. For information, please see Call to Action.