Nova Scotians whose immune systems are more likely to reject a transplanted kidney will have a better chance of getting a successful transplant through a new national program.
The Highly Sensitized Patient program, run by Canadian Blood Services, in partnership with the provinces and territories, will help hard-to-match patients increase the odds of getting a kidney transplant.
Highly sensitized patients have developed antibodies that will attack a transplanted kidney unless the organ is very precisely matched. These patients make up 20 per cent of national transplant waitlists, but receive less than one per cent of the available organs.
The program uses lab testing to precisely match the organ to the patient. By increasing the size of the donor pool, the program will improve the chances of a successful transplant.
“The launch of this program allows us to provide improved access to lifesaving transplants to Canadians waiting for a kidney transplant,” said Leah Hollins, Canadian Blood Services board chair.
“When Canadian Blood Services was mandated to develop national services for organ and tissue donation and transplantation in 2008, Canada was one of the only developed nations without a national, co-ordinated system. We have come a long way and I would like to thank the governments for their commitment during the development of the program.”
Nova Scotia was one of the founding members of the program in October 2013. Six Nova Scotians have received transplanted kidneys through the program, all from donors outside of the province.
There are 144 Nova Scotians in total on the transplant list. Of those, 132 people are waiting for a kidney transplant. Thirty-three are highly sensitized patients.
“Nova Scotians know how important it is to sign their organ donor forms, and how many people depend on receiving that all-important phone call,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine.
“This is an important next step to helping more people get off the transplant list and back to an active, healthy life.”
Across Canada, 111 people have received transplants through the program.
All provinces and territories are participating.