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Heart Institute performs most transplants in Canada in 2013

Thirty-six successful heart transplants were performed in 2013 at the Ottawa Heart Institute the most done at any centre in one year in all of Canada.

The 100 per cent success rate is just one of the acheivements. The Heart Institute also has a 90 per cent success rate for patients eight years after surgery.

Chief of surgery Dr. Marc Ruel says all of this success wouldn't be possible without people making the decision to register as donors.

"It's absolutely essential. Unfortunately, it's a sad reality but the best donors are the people who least expect that they will become a donor," he said, adding these are usually young, healthy individuals who are killed in an accident or who suffer an unexpected brain bleed.

He said while families can make a decision for someone after such an incident it is far easier for those greiving, and far better for a potential recipient, to know what the donor wanted while he or she was alive.

He said the shortage of donors limits the number of transplants they can perform but at the same time they are expanding the range of patients who are eligible to receive a new heart.

"The general principal is, you want to give a heart to someone who's dying from heart disease but not dying from other things," he said.

They don't often select a person also suffering another life-threatening illness like kidney disease or someone in need of an amputation or who has suffered multiple strokes.

"The new heart will not fix any of this. So, you want the heart to really be a life-saving thing, not to be lost in the melting pot in the large area of diseases that an unfortunate patient may have," he said.

With those things in consideration he said they are taking more risks on behalf of the patient and said someone who would not have been eligible for a transplant five years ago will be considered now and that is primarily because of advancements in medicine that have made a transplant a less risky procedure.

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