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Organ donor registration rates in 2016 range from 20 to 46 per cent across the province


Organ donor registration increased by 62 per cent across the province from 2011 to 2016, but where you live has a lot to do with whether you have signed up to be a donor. There is large regional variation of organ donor registrants across the province ranging from 20 per cent in the Metropolitan Toronto area to 46 per cent in the Northern regions of Ontario, according to a new study by researchers at ICES.

When the BeADonor.ca online portal was launched in 2011, donor registration rates among eligible Ontario residents was 18 per cent, it increased to 30 per cent by 2016. The researchers examined the number of organ donor registrants for five separate regions in Ontario: Eastern, Central, Metropolitan Toronto, Southwestern and Northern.

“Lower than average organ donor registration rates were consistently found in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The GTA had lower rates in 2011 and 2016 than non-GTA areas. However, the change in the GTA was significantly higher than in other parts of Ontario,” says Piotr Wilk, lead author of the study, associate scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University and a fellow at ICES.

The study published today in Healthcare Quarterly showed the GTA had lower rates in 2011 (12 per cent) and 2016 (21 per cent) than non-GTA areas. However, the change over the five-year period, was higher in the GTA (74 per cent increase) compared to non-GTA areas (56 per cent increase).

Currently, according to the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN), only one in three (4.1 out of 12.4 million) eligible Ontarians are registered to be organ donors.

“Our study provides a better understanding of how donor registration rates are patterned across Ontario and where clusters of high or low rates exist. As the need for organs exceeds supply, we must develop tailored initiatives to increase the number of potential organ donors. Knowing where to focus registration efforts will aid in the effectiveness of potential initiatives,” says Wilk.

TGLN works at educating the public about organ and tissue donation in Ontario. It encourages Ontarians to register their consent to donate organs and/or tissue. Registrants must be 16 years of age or older, have a valid health card and can only respond in the affirmative to donor registration. Registration can be completed online, by mail or in-person at Service Ontario centres.

There are approximately 1,600 people in Ontario waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and every three days someone dies while waiting.

Author block: Piotr Wilk, Lucie Richard, Amit X. Garg, Alana Maltby and Salimah Z. Shariff.

The article “Exploring spatial variation in registration for deceased organ donation in Ontario, Canada,” is published in the 21 (3) issue of Healthcare Quarterly.

ICES is an independent, non-profit research institute that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy. In October 2018, the institute formerly known as the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences formally adopted the initialism ICES as its official name. For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario

About Lawson Health Research Institute
As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Healthcare London, and working in partnership with Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance healthcare around the world. www.lawsonresearch.ca 

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University is one of Canada’s preeminent medical and dental schools. Established in 1881, it was one of the founding schools of Western University and is known for being the birthplace of family medicine in Canada. For more than 130 years, the School has demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and a passion for scientific discovery.

For more information, please contact:

Deborah Creatura
Media Advisor, ICES
[email protected]
(o) 416-480-4780 or (c) 647-406-5996

Read the Journal Article