Human Tissue: A Regional First in Québec

Saguenay, December 9, 2021–A new partnership has been created between Héma-Québec and the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean in the area of human tissue. It will optimize the identification of potential human tissue donors and their collection, based on transplant needs in Québec.

Among the tissues collected for transplant purposes, the cornea is one that is particularly complex. The cornea supply is a major challenge because their shelf life is only fourteen days after collection, and the demand from the health care system has continued to increase over the last few years.

The new partnership is meant as an adapted response to this challenge. A professional from the Héma-Québec human tissue team is therefore being deployed on a permanent basis to the region, with a mandate to assist the CIUSSS Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean health care in taking charge of potential donor recommendations. Her duties will extend all the way to the collection of corneas directly from the regional facilities in the spring of 2022, rather than in Québec City as is currently the case.

Increasing donor numbers

This partnership could have a significant impact on the initial identification and collection of donors in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region. In 2020-21, only 63 of the 5,390 deceased people recommended for human tissue donation in Québec came from the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.

“The Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region is once again a leader in organ and tissue donation. This partnership will have a significant impact on the region by allowing a better recommendation of potential donors, simplifying the process for clinical staff and improving support for donor families in this process,” says Dr. Jean-Sébastien Bilodeau, Regional Coordinating Physician for Organ and Tissue Donation.

“This partnership is the result of exemplary collaboration between teams from both organizations. This project is a first in Québec. Based on the results achieved and its success, the organization will subsequently deploy this model to other regions. Héma-Québec is thus expanding its regional presence beyond the collection of blood, plasma and breast milk,” said Nathalie Fagnan, President and CEO of Héma-Québec.

Donation of human tissue

Best known for its role in managing Québec’s collective blood supply, Héma-Québec has also been a supplier of human tissue for transplantation for 20 years. The donation of human tissue improves the quality of life of people who are ill or injured and in need of a transplant. In addition to corneas, human tissues that can be collected for transplantation include heart valves, skin tissue, arterial tissue and musculoskeletal tissue such as tendons and bones. A single tissue donation can help up to 20 people, whether it is to treat a large burn with skin tissue or to help someone regain their sight through a corneal transplant. These donations are possible first and foremost because people have consented to be human tissue donors. In Québec, more than 3.3 million people are registered on the Organ and Tissue Donation Registry at the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). For more information on consent, visit www.signezdon.gouv.qc.ca.

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the Québec population’s needs for blood and other high-quality biological products of human origin. Héma-Québec has over 1,400 employees, nearly 200,000 donors of blood, stem cells, mother’s milk and human tissues, as well as thousands of blood drive volunteers. Every year, Héma-Québec delivers over 800,000 biological products of human origin to Québec’s hospitals in order to meet patients’ needs.

Give blood. Give life.

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Information: Héma-Québec • Media Line | 514-832-0871 • www.hema-quebec.qc.ca