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Alliance in Action Alliance Outreach at Queens Park a Success!

Alliance Outreach at Queens Park a Success!

On March 6, 2024, the Kidney Patient & Donor Alliance of Canada (Kidney Alliance) and its Patient Partner Coalition (PPC) kicked off the Transplant 1st Campaign  during an event held at our Kidney Advocacy Day, Queens Park, Toronto, Ontario. This campaign calls for the restructuring of the healthcare system to prioritize kidney transplant first (rather than dialysis), as the best treatment for kidney failure.

During the event, more than 30 patients, donors,  and transplant 1st advocates, all members of the PPC, came together with more than 50 Ontario government policymakers, healthcare administrators, and care providers to discuss the need to increase kidney transplants and save millions of healthcare dollars.

The cost of providing dialysis to patients with end stage kidney disease is one of the most expensive publicly funded medical treatments in Canada. Furthermore, 80 per cent of patients on dialysis become too ill to work, resulting in an additional $300 million per year in costs to disability insurance and CPP. More transplants also save money. Over a five-year period, every 100 kidney transplants save the healthcare system approximately $20 million, driven primarily by hospital-based dialysis costs. The bottom line is that more transplants will relieve the burden of increasing healthcare costs on an over-stressed system.

The 5-year mortality rate for hemodialysis patients remains unacceptably high at approximately 50%, rivaling the mortality rates of stage IV cancer. In 2021, 29,835 Canadians were on dialysis and only 5% of them received a kidney transplant. If we could increase the number of patients on dialysis who receive a kidney by just 1% (from 5% of patients on dialysis to 6%), an additional 288 transplants could occur every year – and up to 1,440 more lives could be saved in Canada over five years.

The PPC’s first step towards making much-needed changes, the Kidney Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park was a great success. We introduced Ontario MMPs and healthcare leadership to the important concepts set out in the Transplant 1st Executive Summary of the White Paper the PPC is preparing. We were also introduced to the Chamber by MPP Michael Parsa, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and MPP Stephanie Bowman of the Ontario Liberal Party.

It was the distinct pleasure of the Kidney Alliance to welcome the following MPPs, who spoke as honoured guess speakers during the event:

  • MPP Rudy Cuzzetto, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, represents Mississauga-Lakeshore, and acts as Parliamentary Assistant to the President of the Treasury Board and Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Rudy shared how kidney disease has impacted his own family and the crucial importance of prioritizing kidney transplantation.
  • MPP France Gélinas has served as the Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding of Nickel Belt since 2007 and is the NDP’s Official Opposition Critic for Health, Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on Social Policy Member, Standing Committee on Public Accounts. She is a health care professional, community leader, and a long-time supporter of organ donation and transplant initiatives including reintroducing the Peter Kormos Memorial Act, which would change organ and tissue donation in Ontario from an opt-in system to an opt-out system.
  • MPP Stephanie Bowman is MPP for Don Valley West and a Member of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. MPP Bowman has actively worked for years towards improving care  in support of kidney patients. She  expressed her interest in helping move the Transplant1st initiative forward.
  • MPP Mike Schreiner is MPP for Guelph and Leader of the Ontario Green Party. Mike spoke about the impact of his meeting with Guelph resident and Coalition Member Peter Wechselmann and his desire to do whatever he can to help advance our work.

Our warmest thanks to all the participating MPPs, staffers, patients, donors, caregivers and healthcare providers for attending, and for partnering with the PPC to advocate for Transplant 1st to save healthcare dollars and Ontarian lives through kidney transplantation. Special thanks to Dr. Seychelle Yohanna, a nephrologist and the Director of the Living Donor Program at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton. Dr. Yohanna shared how important it was for her to attend the Kidney Advocacy Day and stand in partnership with patients. She described the need for more transplants as a fixable problem when all interested stakeholders are able to come together to make the changes needed.

Finally, additional thanks to all the Coalition members who dedicated their time to travel to Queens Park and speak with our representatives and government leadership. We have made much-needed connections and started the Transplant 1st Campaign Advocacy off with a bang! We look forward to continuing the momentum of the Transplant 1st campaign with your much appreciated guidance and endorsement.