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Organ and Tissue Donation Program

Addressing the needs of our patients

Right now, there are about 200 Nova Scotian patients waiting for solid organ transplants but on average, there are only about 20 donations available each year. This gap makes the identification of every potential donor extremely important.

At the Department of Critical Care, we’re addressing the issue by leading the provincial organ and tissue donation program, Legacy of Life. Our goals for the program are to:

  • ensure that all families are offered the option of organ and tissue donation
  • provide safe organs and tissues for transplant
  • promote organ and tissue donation to health care professionals and the general public

Since we began working extensively with district resource nurses throughout the province, we’ve seen a consistent increase in referrals for assessment of patients as potential organ donors.

Surpassing national averages

Our department strives to initiate donation after cardiocirculatory death (DCD) programs in regions outside of Metro Halifax. We’re currently developing a pilot project that will establish donation teams—including a funded donation physician—in other regions of the province.

Thanks to initiatives like this, DCD donations make up 25 per cent of the Nova Scotian organ donor pool, exceeding the national DCD donation ratio of 10 per cent.

Enhancing education for non-critical care physicians

The Department of Critical Care has developed an educational workshop for emergency medicine physicians at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, with future plans to expand to other physician groups across Nova Scotia.

We also participate in research projects sponsored by the Canadian National Transplant Research Program, including studies of:

  • the barriers to donation after cardiocirculatory death
  • the determination of death practices in the ICU