Factors Causing Transient Halt in Kidney Transplant Program: AHS Insights

The Northern Alberta Transplant Program has temporarily paused its participation in the Kidney Paired Donation Program (KPD) due to various factors. Alberta Health Services (AHS) cited a lack of operating room capacity, a shortage of anesthesiologists at the University of Alberta Hospital (UAH), and a backlog of local and national pairs waiting on Edmonton’s KPD list as contributing factors. The pause will only affect the Northern Alberta Transplant Program and not the program in Calgary. The KPD program matches donor-recipient pairs who are incompatible and unable to donate directly to each other in hopes of finding a suitable match with other pairs across the country.

The decision to pause the program has raised concerns for patients waiting for kidney transplants, as they will have to wait longer due to the program’s three-month match cycles. Sean Delaney, who has undergone two transplants, expressed his empathy for patients on the waiting list, stating that the situation can be emotionally draining for them and their potential donors. AHS assured patients that they will remain on the list for deceased organ donations and other living donor programs.

AHS acknowledged the stress and anxiety caused by the temporary pause but explained that they are actively working to recruit health-care professionals to address workforce gaps in anesthesia and other areas. They are implementing aggressive recruitment strategies and planning optimization work through the Alberta Surgical Initiative. Despite the pause, already matched recipients will proceed with their surgeries, and living donors will continue to be accepted into the living donor programs, including KPD.

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