Saskatchewan halts organ donation program due to COVID-19 surge
Health officials confirmed at news conference on Thursday
Saskatchewan has paused its organ donation program as a result of surging COVID-19 cases in the province.
The pause to the program applies to all but a few limited procedures and will last indefinitely.
That means anyone who registered to donate their organs will not be able to have their organs collected, halting any of the possible corresponding donations.
Health officials confirmed the news at a press conference on Thursday.
"Our organ donation co-ordinators are the ones that also come and have critical care experience," said Lori Garchinski, the executive director of tertiary care for the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).
The shift in policy is due to record-breaking new COVID-19 case numbers, record breaking hospitalisations because of the virus and record breaking numbers of patients being placed in intensive care.
Officials confirmed that as of Thursday, 60 of the 84 patients in the province's ICUs have COVID-19.
"Due to the significant surge, particularly in Regina and Saskatoon, and the need to maintain those standards of care and support, we have slowed down and will provide only immediate tissue donation," Garchinski said.
Ocular donations are among the procedures that will continue, she said.
The organ donation program is the latest casualty of the increased spread of COVID-19 Saskatchewan over recent weeks.
Non-critical and elective services have been slowed down or paused altogether as the province's health services shift to focus on COVID-19 efforts.
Garchinski said she's grateful for all of the families and people of Saskatchewan who made the decision to donate, but that it is a reality of the pandemic in the province.
"We would continue to manage them and support them with end of life care," she said. "We're very sad."