There is a critical shortage of donor organs in Alberta. Waitlists across our province have grown by 40 per cent since 2006, while our donation rates have remained among the lowest in Canada. Plus, 70 per cent of donated organs are not able to be used for transplantation, contributing to the hundreds of Canadians who die each year while waiting for a life-saving transplant.
The Alberta Transplant Institute (ATI), however, offers a second chance at life for those clinging to hope on donor waitlists. Home to 100 experts and the Canadian National Transplant Research Program, the ATI is one of the most advanced transplant research and training centres in Canada, and the only one serving Western Canada.
In 2013, after years of living with cystic fibrosis, Karen Hamilton’s lungs were failing. Facing a two-year wait for a transplant, the 29-year-old mother of twins was offered a set of “reconditioned” lungs. Massive blood clots in these donated lungs would have rendered them unusable. But, they were repaired through a University of Alberta clinical trial of ex vivo perfusion technology, a revolutionary organ support and repair technique. Using an ex vivo perfusion machine, the clots were treated outside the body to make the lungs suitable for transplant — a first in transplantation science!
The ex vivo research trial was established through a partnership between ATI, the University Hospital Foundation and Alberta Health Services. It’s just one of the life-changing innovations supported by ATI’s clinical and research focuses.
Technologies like these are game-changers for patients like Karen, especially when met with the reality that only one in four donated lungs are suitable for transplantation and one in three patients will die before lungs become available.
Today, Karen is making up for lost time with her husband and daughters. The once-damaged lungs have given Karen a new lease on life — an extraordinary gift made possible through transplantation technology.
The Impact of Your Donation
Your donation will help ATI give thousands of people living with organ failure a second chance at life.
The institute brings together a constellation of scientists, physicians and educators involved in transplantation in Alberta to work together more easily. ATI boasts the leadership of three Tier 1 Canada Research Chairs who are leading the way in transplant surgery and immunology.
The institute is advancing transplantation science through exploring ex vivo perfusion technology, regenerative cellular therapies and alternatives to lifelong immunosuppressant drug use after receiving an organ. As well, ATI plans to build a centre to train technicians in assisting research and discovery. Currently, it is costly for highly trained surgeons to “babysit” ex vivo machines overnight or to mass-produce cells for human regenerative medicine applications.
How to Help
Transplantation is a reprieve to the uncertainty felt by those suffering organ failure.
You can give parents more time with their children, children more time to grow, and families more time to create memories through a gift to ATI. Your donation will equip the institute with the resources necessary to improve lives impacted by transplantation.