Alberta surgeons had busy 10 days in July transplanting 32 various organs

By on August 26, 2014

ShuterStock image
ShuterStock image

EDMONTON — A surgical transplant team in Edmonton has completed more transplants in a 10-day period than it normally does in one month.

In July, the Mazankowski and U of A transplant services team completed 32 transplants, which included lungs, hearts, livers, islets, kidneys and a pancreas.

It broke Alberta’s previous transplant record, which was 30 transplants in 10 days.

Physicians, nurses and surgeons had to work quickly to match organs to patients and schedule operating rooms and beds.

The organs involved in the record-setting series of transplants came from 11 deceased donors, including eight Albertans.

Transplant recipient Rick Galloway says people don’t realize how important donating organs is until it happens to them.

“A thank you is all you can say,” added Galloway, “and ‘sorry for your loss.’ It’s tough to put into words.”

Dr. Jim Kutsogiannis is medical director of the HOPE Program, which co-ordinates organ and tissue donations in Alberta.

“Many people that are involved in the care of these patients — the nurses, the OR staff, the physicians — go above and beyond in providing their time and effort to accommodate this,” he said.

Medical staff must care for transplant recipients, but donors also need care to ensure organs remain in good condition prior to transplant, Kutsogiannis said.

“Often, they’re very unstable,” said Kutsogiannis. “They require many caregivers to maintain their organs’ functioning for the purpose of donation.”

He said Albertans are becoming increasingly aware of organ donation and that patients’ families are approaching hospital staff more and more about the possibility of donating.

Since the province launched its organ and tissue donation registry in April, 23,000 Albertans have signed up.