Network achieves provincial first in organ donation

Bathurst, January 10, 2022 – Last fall Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre achieved the feat of performing the first organ retrieval after cardiocirculatory death following medical assistance in dying. 

“This was a first in New Brunswick. I share my pride with the New Brunswick Organ and Tissue Program and all the teams that participated in this procedure from both of the province’s health networks,” said Dr. Rémi LeBlanc, internist at Dr. Georges L. Dumont University Hospital Centre and organ donation physician.

Donation after Cardiocirculatory death allows for organ donation when the patient does not meet the criteria established for the diagnosis of neurological death (or brain death), but they (or their next of kin) still wishes to make an organ donation after death.

“The procedure allowed a man between 60 and 69 years old to receive a kidney and a woman between 30 and 39 years old to receive a kidney. The lungs of the deceased were transplanted into a woman between 50 and 59 years old,” Dr. Leblanc added proudly.

For the family of the donor, the success of this procedure eases the grief of losing a loved one. “Our mother felt strongly about donating her organs after her death, and knowing that her wish came true makes me feel really good. Now we want to let everyone know about this new organ donation option so that other families and patients can benefit from it as well,” said Ronda Demchuck, daughter of the deceased.

Organ donation after cardiocirculatory death is currently possible at the Dr. Georges L. Dumont University Hospital Centre and at Saint John Regional Hospital. Organ donation after neurological death (or brain death) can be done in the following four centres: Dr. Georges L. Dumont University Hospital Centre, Saint John Regional Hospital, The Moncton Hospital and Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton.

“As Medical Director for the Organ Division of the NB Organ and Tissue Program, I am so very pleased that our program is able to offer patients and their families the opportunity of offering the ultimate gift of life after their passing,” said Dr. Robert Adams, neurosurgeon at The Moncton Hospital. 

“We would like to thank the family of the deceased for their support through this process that saved lives, and we encourage everyone to become an organ donor in order to carry on this success story,” said Dr. Leblanc.

The two health networks encourage people to let their loved ones know their wishes with respect to organ and tissue donation and to indicate their intention on their provincial Medicare card (to do this, contact Service New Brunswick at 1 888 762 8600).