Good news for those awaiting organ transplants in BC – the province has seen its deceased donor rate more than double in the last 6 years.

BC Transplant Provincial Operations Director Edward Ferre says BC now has one of the highest deceased donor rates in the country.

“The 2015 donor promoting population rate of 20.2 is much higher than the national average which sits at about 16 right now. We’re one of the leading provinces.”

That wasn’t always the case – in 2009, there were just 7.2 deceased donors per million people in the province. Ferre says raising public awareness has been key to increasing donor rates. He says his organization has been focusing on education.

“We identified physician champions in the critical care community, provided them with training and tools and direct access to us to help educate their colleagues, to help educated their staff surrounding organ donation and we’ve found that that’s been very successful.”

According to Ferre, deceased donor numbers and transplant rates in the Northern Health region have matched the provincial trend.

“In 2015, there were 14 people in Northern Health who received life-saving organ transplants. Currently there are 92 patients in Prince George post-transplant clinic. And there are 173 people in the North who have received organ transplants.”

Ferre says local transplant recipients have received donated kidneys, hearts, lungs and livers from deceased donors.

And while donor number are moving in the right direction, there are still 500 people across BC in need of donated organs.

Ferre says raising public awareness around organ donation has been key to increasing donations.

Last year, BC Transplant partnered with Service BC to make registering for donation easier. Since April 2015, more than 38,000 people in the province have registered to donate their organs – that’s an average increase of 36% over previous years.

This year, ICBC has joined Service BC to launch a pilot project to push those numbers even higher.

Beginning in March, staff at four ICBC locations – including Abbotsford, Kelowna, Vancouver and North Vancouver – will provide customers with information about organ donation and how to register as an organ donor.

According to ICBC, 50% of British Columbians believe they’re registered as an organ donor but only 20% actually are.

Ferre says a quick visit to the website is all it takes to get informed and get registered.

“I just want to encourage everyone to go to the website to read over the information to register and to let their loved ones know.”

You can register to be an organ donor here.