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Dec 4, 2020

Kidney Failure Continues To Rise In Canada

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) recently released its Organ Replacement in Canada: CORR Annual Statistics, 2020 report, a comprehensive look at organ transplant, donations, and trends in end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) in Canada. 

“Although there is some positive trending, the report reveals a troubling increase in the number of kidney patients on dialysis that underscores the need for much more work to be done in the areas of kidney health awareness and advocacy,” said Elizabeth Myles National Executive Director of The Kidney Foundation.

The report – a wrap up of the 2019 year-end statistics, indicates that nearly 41,000 Canadians (excluding Quebec) are living with ESKD, a 33% increase over the last 10 years. Additionally, the number of people undergoing dialysis treatments to treat ESKD has almost doubled in the last 20 years.

“The report statistics tell an alarming story,” said Ms. Myles. “Dialysis, while being an important life-sustaining treatment, takes a heavy physical and emotional toll on those who must endure it several times a week, for several hours at a time. In fact, the report shows that the 5-year survival rate for people in dialysis is below 50%. That’s why the early detection of kidney failure is so critical in helping to maintain and prolong renal function as much as possible.”

Trends in end-stage kidney disease in Canada, 2019. The numer of Canadians receiving chronic dialysis has nearly doubled over 20 years. From 11601 in 2000 to 23125 in 2019
*Quebec is excluded 
Canadian Institute for Health Information. Trends in end-stage kidney disease in Canada, 2019 [Infographic]. Ottawa, ON: CIHI; 2020

Earlier this year, The Kidney Foundation launched a public awareness campaign that sought to inform the public of the importance of the oft-overlooked vital organ. The Foundation’s online risk awareness tool encourages Canadians to take a closer look at their own risk factors. Equipped with the right information and knowledge about the risk factors that may affect them, individuals can take the necessary steps to protect their kidney health.

The report also highlights some positive trend results, particularly when it comes to the number of organ transplants in Canada in 2019. This shows an increase by 42% since 2010 and was up by 8% over the previous year. 

Lydia Lauder, National Director of Programs and Public Policy at The Kidney Foundation, welcomes this news with cautious optimism. “We’re really pleased to see the number of transplant surgeries going up year after year, but the growth rate of kidney transplants performed isn’t keeping up with the demand. So, the waitlist for a kidney transplant isn’t getting significantly shorter.”

The Kidney Foundation is working collaboratively with federal, provincial, and territory governments, medical and allied healthcare professionals, and other invested members of the organ donation and transplantation community, to identify and address ways in which the organ transplantation system in Canada can be improved so donor opportunities are not missed. 

An important component of that work is the Foundation’s leadership role in the recently announced Improving Engagement and Empowering Patients Through Their Transplant Journey project, funded through Health Canada’s commitment to the Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative. By seeking to identify ways in which the organ donation and transplantation system can be improved to create a better patient experience, this project will give an important voice to those most impacted by transplant – the transplant recipients themselves and those awaiting or being assessed for a transplant, living donors, as well as their care partners.

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