National Organ and Tissue Donation Week – 62% fewer people waiting for a corneal transplant

Montréal, April 22, 2014—The number of people waiting for a corneal transplant in Québec has gone from 704 in February 2011 to 271 in April 2014, which represents a decrease of 62% over three years. A result that can be attributed to the changes made in the past few years to the supply of corneas in Québec.

Since January 2009, Héma-Québec has been responsible for qualifying donors, collecting corneas and providing a regulatory framework for activities. It is also responsible for oversight of the process for assigning corneas to surgeons, pursuant to a partnership agreement signed with the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital. A similar partnership agreement was concluded in the Québec City area with the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHU) and has been in effect since January 2012.

“Our mission requires us to meet the needs of medical teams and patients in order to distribute adequate amounts of optimal-quality tissues to the various hospitals. Our role is to act as a supplier of human tissues, including corneas, intended for transplant and to oversee the management of a human tissue bank for Québec. Héma-Québec’s expertise as a supplier of human-derived biological products therefore extends to human tissues,” adds Dr. Jean De Serres, President and CEO of Héma-Québec.

Human tissue donation: the legacy of life

Héma-Québec supplies close to 4,000 human tissues each year to Québec hospitals. Several human tissues are used for transplant purposes, for example:  

  • heart valves allow a patient’s heart to function normally again;
  • bone tissue and tendons are used for reconstructive surgery; and
  • skin grafts help treat severe burn victims.

Héma-Québec is able to assume this role of supplier first and foremost because people have consented to human tissue donation. In Québec, more than one-and-a-half million people are registered in the Registre des consentements au don d’organes et de tissus of the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec. As part of the National Organ and Tissue Donation Week taking place until April 27, Héma-Québec is reminding the public of the importance of joining this registry, signing the sticker indicating your consent to organ and human tissue donation and placing it on the back of your health insurance card, having your consent registered with the Chambre des notaires du Québec and informing your loved ones. To find out more about consent, visit the website. You can also go to the Human Tissues section of the Héma-Québec website at to become better informed.

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About Héma-Québec

In addition to its role as supplier of blood products for Québec, Héma-Québec supplies human tissues for transplant purposes (including skin grafts, heart valves and musculoskeletal tissues such as tendons and bones) and makes them available to Québec hospitals. Héma-Québec also collects eye tissues for use in corneal transplantation.

Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and cord blood to meet the needs of all Quebecers; to provide and develop expertise along with specialized and innovative services and products in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

Héma-Québec encompasses 1,300 employees, over 300,000 donor visits to blood drives per year, 16,000 volunteers and more than 500,000 blood products delivered annually to Québec hospitals to meet the needs of patients.

Give blood. Give life. 

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