Building an organ and tissue donation and transplantation system for Canada – through public involvement
Friday, April 16th, 2010

Ascentum is proud to be working with Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to address the pressing issue of organ and tissue donation and transplantation (OTDT), a project I have been working on as lead analyst since December.

Canada stands out as the only western nation without a national, coordinated system for OTDT. In 2008, there were more than 4,300 Canadians on an organ waiting list; of those, 215 died without getting the transplant that could have saved their lives.

With a mandate from the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Deputy Ministers of Health (excluding Quebec), CBS is engaging stakeholders, the public and the medical community to develop a recommendation for a new national OTDT system. Three committees have already been struck, including a Steering Committee of 11 prominent experts in public healthcare policy, and two expert committees, one focused on organs and the other on tissues. These committees will meet throughout the year, and will lead the development of the formal system recommendation.

In collaboration with CBS, Ascentum has designed, is facilitating and reporting on a series of cross-Canada public dialogues with interested Canadians on the principles and elements of a new national system.

Seven of nine dialogues have been successfully completed – in London, Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax, Winnipeg, Regina and St. John’s, – and we are preparing for the last two dialogues in Moncton (May 4) and Toronto (May 29).  Over 225 Canadians have answered the call to participate, including the voices of living donors, the families of deceased donors, recipients, health professionals, concerned citizens and community leaders.

I have been working closely with our facilitators Manon and Mary Pat to make sense of the rich contributions brought by these diverse participants. Some recurring themes extracted thus far are: the importance of a pan-Canadian system with high quality standards, safety, improved education and awareness, integrity and trust.

At the end of May I’ll be helping facilitate our final dialogue in Toronto, where I’m looking forward to meeting with and listening to participants on their vision for an OTDT system in Canada. From there, we will be working with CBS to finalize their end report, ensuring that the views of Canadians are heard in the design of a system aimed at improving outcomes and saving lives across this country.

For more information on the public dialogues, including how to register to participate in the final events in Moncton and Toronto, visit

– Stephan Telka –

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