Saskatoon Regional Health Authority chair Jim Rhode held up his driver’s license at a recent news conference announcing the resumption of the Kidney Transplant Program in Saskatoon. “This is what it’s about,” said Rhode. “We need more people to sign their organ donor cards.”

The Kidney Transplant Program was suspended in July 2009. Saskatchewan patients have been receiving transplants in Edmonton since that time. The program has now resumed operations at the provincial transplant office at St. Paul’s Hospital. A review of the program during the suspension by the Saskatchewan Transplant Steering Committee makes several recommendations aimed at improving services in the future. The review found that the promotion of organ donations need to increase, that more transplant surgeons need to be recruited and that the program itself is needed in Saskatchewan. The review also recommends the development of an academic transplant program – something which is being pursued by the Ministry of Advanced Education.

Depending on recruitment of transplant surgeons, deceased-donor transplants will continue in Edmonton.

“I am very pleased that we have partially resumed the Kidney Transplant Program – the Living Related Donor element of the program is operational with the first transplant scheduled in September. As well, we continue to do assessments and follow-up for many kidney transplant recipients,” says Health Minister Don McMorris who spoke at the news conference.

In 2009, 22 Saskatchewan patients received kidney transplants (19 from deceased donors and three from living donors).