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Equity and Access in Living Organ Donation

On Monday, September 16th, 2019 the UHN Centre for Living Organ Donation hosted their first annual Living Organ Donation Symposium. The focus of the event was on equity and access to living organ donation and featured a wide range of speakers and attendees representing healthcare, transplant, and community organizations.

During the event, attendees were engaged in learning about living kidney and liver donation and the benefits or living donor transplant from Dr. Sunita Singh and Dr. Mark Cattral. The Symposium also welcomed transplant bioethicist Jed Gross to discuss ethical issues in living organ donation. Attendees also heard a community perspective from the Founder of the Amar Karma Health and Wellness Awareness Network, Loveen Gill, who spoke about the organization’s journey in raising awareness of organ and tissue donation in the South Asian community over the last 10 years. The audience also heard the inspirational stories of Claudia Morgan, a living donor kidney transplant recipient, Raha Dehdashti, a living donor, and Kelly Bryan, a living donor in the first paired liver exchange in North America.

Throughout the event, our team was excited to present our research during the Poster Presentation sessions. Topics ranged from the impact of socioeconomic status on having a living donor identified, to the psychosocial impact of end-stage kidney disease. Team members were happy to engage the audience in discussions about our ongoing work towards examining barriers to living donor kidney transplantation.

The afternoon was filled with conversations on equity and access to living organ donation. Dr. Istvan Mucsi presented his work examining barriers in access to living donor kidney transplant, followed by Lydia-Joi Marshall, the Vice-President of the Black Health Alliance, who spoke on barriers to healthcare and transplant in the Black, African, and Carribean communities and the importance of addressing systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism in the work of achieving equitable access to living organ donation. The program also included perspectives from the Head of the BC Transplant program on their experience in increasing living donation rates through their Transplant First initiative.

The culminating keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Amy Waterman of the Transplant Research & Education Centre at UCLA on the power of storytelling to inspire change in living organ donation. Dr. Waterman excitingly introduced the Canadian launch of the Living Donation Storytelling Project, a digital library of real stories of living kidney donors and recipients.

To learn more about the Project or to hear the stories, visit https://explorelivingdonation.org/.

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