A thousand lives forever changed — thanks to the Kidney Paired Donation program

Did you know?
Meaghan helped her young neighbour, Stephanie, go on to enjoy life to the fullest by making a lifesaving donation through the Kidney Paired Donation program. Meaghan’s decision to donate actually helped save two lives and made a lasting impact on many more.

Canadian Blood Services, on behalf of Canada’s organ and tissue donation and transplantation community, is pleased to share the news that the Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program has now facilitated 1,000 transplants.  

These transplants, facilitated through the Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program, represent 1,000 people whose lives have been saved or forever changed by the gift of organ donation. The KPD program connects living donor programs across the country, enabling them to achieve together what no jurisdiction could do exclusively on its own. 

“This achievement is a testament to the collaborative efforts of living donation and transplant programs, health-care professionals, and — most importantly — the generosity of living donors who made the selfless decision to donate their kidney for a loved one or a stranger,” says Dr. Graham Sher, Canadian Blood Services’ chief executive officer. 

Launched in 2009 by Canadian Blood Services, the national KPD program matches suitable living donors to recipients across Canada. The program offers living kidney donors the possibility of helping someone they know to receive a kidney transplant, even if they’re not a match to the person they are trying to help.  

Using a sophisticated matching algorithm, the program identifies compatible transplant opportunities created through chains of paired donations from otherwise incompatible pairs. These chains also rely on non-directed anonymous donors (willing living donors who don’t have a specific intended recipient).

“This program has saved or improved the lives of 1,000 people, many of whom might not otherwise have received a transplant or would have waited longer for a transplant from a deceased donor,” added Dr. Sher. 

Contribute your commemorative piece!

Canadian Blood Services is partnering with Passport Puzzles to create the commemorative KPD 1000 puzzle. Like the KPD program itself, the puzzle will feature a beautiful design made from 1,000 hard-to-match pieces coming together to form a larger, more meaningful picture.

The commemorative puzzle will be a curated mosaic of images. Over the coming months, we invite you to submit photos or artwork inspired by the powerful impact of kidney paired donation.

Photos, messages and artwork can be submitted to OTDT@blood.ca

Passport Puzzles, a Canadian company based in Edmonton, AB, is owned and operated by Pamela Osborne, an advocate for organ donation in Canada. Pamela’s brother-in-law, photographer Jonathan Ferguson, and his powerful and inspirational story of world travel and organ transplant survival was the driving force that brought Passport Puzzles to life.

A milestone made possible thanks to living donors 

The success of the KPD program is due to the selflessness of hundreds of individuals who stepped forward to become living organ donors. In addition to the altruistic anonymous donors who make many of these kidney exchanges possible, reaching this milestone is a direct result of the collaborative efforts of living donation and transplant programs across Canada. 

Kidney paired donation has helped recipients like Stephanie Jolink, who at age nine learned she had chronic kidney failure and would face years of dialysis. Stephanie’s former babysitter and neighbour, Meaghan Kay, wanted to donate her kidney to Stephanie, but she wasn’t a match. Determined to help Stephanie, Meaghan signed up for the KPD program, a decision that created a chain of potential compatible kidney transplant opportunities for Stephanie. Now, thanks to Meghan’s selfless gift, Stephanie is living an active and healthy teenage life. . 

Making all the difference from coast to coast 

At any given time, more than 4,000 people in Canada are waiting for an organ, and 75 per cent of those waiting need a kidney. The KPD program is an example of how provincial health-care systems, working together, can improve the health of individuals beyond provincial borders by improving access to transplants for Canadian patients, no matter where they live. With participation from all provincial living donation and transplant programs, the KPD program is able to identify matched donors and recipients all across Canada.  

“Without this program, transplant candidates would never know they match a willing living donor in another city or province. It’s a true reflection of our commitment to help every patient, match every need and serve every Canadian,” noted Dr. Sher.  

Facts and stats: 

  • Of the 4,000 people in Canada who are awaiting an organ, more than 3,000 are on a wait list for kidney transplantation. Hundreds of these potential recipients die each year before receiving a transplant.  
  • The oldest person to donate a kidney through the KPD program was 76 years of age, and the oldest person to receive a kidney was 84. The youngest recipient was just two years old. 
  • In total, 182 kidneys have been shipped across Canada from donors to recipients. The farthest distance a kidney was shipped was approximately 4,000 km between Vancouver and Quebec City.  
  • The farthest distance a donor travelled to donate a kidney was from Corner Brook, Nfld., to Vancouver, B.C.  
  • Overall, 220 non-directed anonymous donors have helped 681 people receive a kidney transplant by donating through the KPD program. 
  • A total of 246 patients have received a transplant through the KPD program without ever having to start dialysis.  
  • A living donor kidney transplant lasts, on average, 21 years, compared with 11 years for a deceased donor kidney transplant.    

You can make all the difference. Learn more about living donation and the KPD program by visiting our website