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Physicians engaged to lead on organ donation in Ontario

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Organ and tissue donation benefits society as a whole.  It gives a second chance at life to patients waiting for transplantation and positively contributes to the lives of their families and friends.  It also is a source of comfort to many donor families as they grieve the loss of a loved one.

Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN), the agency charged with coordinating the donation and transplant system in Ontario, is enhancing physician leadership in donation, a practice that has contributed to recent improvements in performance in the United Kingdom and Australia.  Spain, a world leader in donation, touts physician leadership and accountability as key components of their system.

Hoping to replicate the success of these international models, TGLN has appointed specially trained critical care physicians to support donation in Ontario hospitals. Five Regional Medical Leads will form the basis of a network of expertise, providing education to physicians and assisting with adoption of donation best practices, offering clinical and administrative support and ensuring that every opportunity to save lives is identified and appropriately pursued. For physicians inside hospitals where a potential donation case is not a regular occurrence, the Medical Leads are more experienced peers available to them for consultation and advice.


“One in four Ontarians is now a registered donor, the landscape is shifting,” says Ronnie Gavsie, President and CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network.  “We have to ensure that families are given the opportunity to honour their loved ones’ donation wishes or make the choice on their loved ones’ behalf to save lives.  By increasing the number of physicians formally engaged in organ and tissue donation within Ontario hospitals, we are building a positive culture of donation in the province.”

The five Regional Medical Leads were chosen because of their demonstrated interest in and commitment to organ and tissue donation. They report to TGLN’s Chief Medical Officer and are responsible for improving the process of donation within their assigned group of hospitals. Donation performance data, by hospital, is updated quarterly on the Trillium Gift of Life Network website: www.giftoflife.on.ca.

The next phase in enhancing Ontario’s organ and tissue donation program will identify donation physicians to champion donation within their individual hospitals.  Hospital Donation Physicians (HDP), are expected to be in place throughout the province by spring 2015, will promote a culture of donation inside their hospital.

“When donation is a possibility, we want to make sure we offer grieving families everything they need to take advantage of the opportunity to let their loved one live on, as part of a respectful approach to end of life care,” says Dr. Sonny Dhanani, Chief Medical Officer of Donation for TGLN. “These physicians are shepherds of the process, collaborating with donation teams and sharing expertise to help save lives.”


The reality is that the opportunity for organ donation is rare. While everyone has the potential to be an organ and/or tissue donor, a person is five times more likely to need an organ transplant during their lifetime than to have the opportunity to donate one. On average, only three per cent of hospital deaths occur in circumstances that may lead to organ donation, because of the need to sustain a patient on a ventilator. By enhancing the ability to recognize potential donation opportunities, Trillium Gift of Life Network, in collaboration with hospitals, will continue to increase organ and tissue donation rates in Ontario.

Trillium Gift of Life Network: Regional Medical Leads

Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sonny Dhanani: The Hospital for Sick Children, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Dr. Eli Malus: Thunder Bay Regional health Sciences Centre, Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Bluewater Health, Cambridge Memorial Hospital, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Grand River Hospital, Guelph General Hospital, St. Mary’s General Hospitals, Windsor Regional Hospital, University Health Network, Leamington District Memorial Hospital

Dr. Ian Bell: Southlake Regional Health Centre, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, Brant Community Healthcare System, London Health Sciences Centre, Niagara Health System, Sault Area Hospital, Grey Bruce Health Services, Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, Woodstock Hospital, Norfolk General Hospital

Dr. Andrew Healey: St. Michael’s Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto, Trillium Health Partners, William Osler Health Centre, Halton Healthcare Services Corporation, Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, Georgian Bay General Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Headwaters Healthcare Centre

Dr. Karim Soliman: Humber River Hospital, Lakeridge Heatlh, Mackenzie Health, Markham Stouffville Hospital, North York General Hospital, Rouge Valley Health System (Ajax & Centenary), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, The Scarborough Hospital, Toronto East General Hospital, Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital, Timmins and District Hospital Health Sciences North, Kirkland and District Hospital, St. Joseph’s General Hospital

Dr. Mike Hartwick: Brockville General Hospital, Cornwall Community Hospital, Kingston General Hospital, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, The Ottawa Hospital, Pembroke Regional Hospital, Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Queensway Carleton Hospital, Quinte Healthcare Corporation, Hopital Montfort, Northumberland Hills Hospital, Ross Memorial Hospital, North Bay Regional Hospital

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