Nanaimo’s Deborah Graves, a transplant recipient, shares her story during an event Monday with Citizens’ Services Minister Jinny Sims and Leanne Appleton, B.C .Transplant provincial executive director. The event celebrated a partnership between B.C. Transplant and Service B.C. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Minister highlights efforts to register organ donation decisions

Nanaimo woman shares transplant story during organ donation event

While her South African accent sets her apart, Deborah Graves jokingly tells friends she has Canadian body parts and that makes her a very authentic Canadian.

Graves, a Nanaimo resident, was in dire circumstances and not given much of a chance of survival when medical staff at Vancouver General Hospital told her she need to go on an organ transplant wait list in 2011.

She had picked up a parasitic water fluke while travelling in Malaysia years earlier, and in 2011 when a varices ruptured she was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered she had liver cirrhosis. She had two liver transplants that year after her body rejected the first.

“To think not only once, but twice I had that gift offered to me. That is so extremely rare and I realize just how fortunate I am just to be standing here,” said Graves, who often thinks about the lives that made hers possible and the courageous decision families of donors had to make in a time of great sorrow.

Graves joined Citizens’ Services Minister Jinny Sims, B.C. Transplant provincial executive director Leanne Appleton and Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog during an event at the Service B.C. office on Selby Street on Monday to celebrate the partnership between Service B.C. and B.C. Transplant.

Since 2015, Sims said Service B.C. has worked with B.C. Transplant to help more than 60,000 British Columbians register as donors.

“We are very, very pleased that here in Nanaimo, 1,700 people have been signed on so far and for a community our size, that’s quite something,” said Sims, who noted between April and December last year, the number was 540.

“When you think that each person who signs, that’s up to eight organ donations, and so we are very, very impressed with the work done here, but today we are here really to highlight the work done right across the province and how we need to do more.”

There was a 25 per cent increase in deceased organ donors which helped save a record-breaking 479 lives last year, says B.C. Transplant in a press release.

  • RELATED: B.C. breaks record for number of transplant donations
  • RELATED: 25 per cent of organs donated in B.C. came from fentanyl overdose deaths

But donations still aren’t matching demand. More than 600 people were waiting for an organ transplant as of Jan. 1. Last year, 29 people died while waiting for a life-saving organ.

The number of living donors has also decreased. There were 130 in 2013, which dropped to 95 in both 2016 and 2017, data from B.C. Transplant shows.

Appleton said B.C. continues to be a leader across Canada with living donations and B.C. Transplant is working to make it easier for potential recipients waiting for a kidney transplant by educating them about how to reach out and identify potential living donors.

This year, after seeing the highest deceased donor rate per million, Appleton said B.C. Transplant wants to continue the progress, hopes to get beyond the 25 per million donor rate and have more living donors.

For more information or to register as an organ donor, follow this link.

-with files from Ashley Wadhwani

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Kidney Foundation trying to keep patients warm this winter

Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Warm the Sole campaign takes chill off dialysis treatments

Nanaimo Theatre Group will start its season by staging a farce

Self Help follows married second-rate actors who become famous self-help coaches

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: School buses need seat belts

If I had a child in school, I would be insisting on seat belts in school buses, says letter writer

Nanaimo United forgoing soccer balls for snowballs

With soccer cancelled, snow fun day to take place at Beban Park on Saturday, Feb. 16

Man arrested in shooting at Nanaimo hotel pleads guilty to second-degree murder

Brandon Tyler Woody to be sentenced in late March in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 14

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

Dallas Stars pay tribute to Nanaimo woman who died of cancer

NHL team wore Arlene Forbes’s initials on hockey helmets last week

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Most Read