01/28/2015 11:00 EST | Updated 03/30/2015 05:59 EDT

Organ transplants show 'remarkable record of achievement'

Organ transplants saved recipients more than two million years of life, according to a 25-year study by U.S. researchers.

In Wednesday's issue of JAMA Surgery, Dr. Abbas Rana of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his team looked at the survival benefit of organ transplants from 1987 to 2012.

Researchers compared records of recipients to those placed on a waiting list who never underwent transplants, and measured the death rates.

The analysis indicated an average of 4.3 years of life saved for each solid organ transplant recipient.

Multiplying by the patients, they calculated about 2.2 millions years of life saved for the 533,329 patients over 25 years — a "stellar accomplishment," they said. 

"These life-years saved are in patients with end-organ failure, who are among the sickest patients," the study's authors concluded.

But only 48 per cent of patients on waiting lists during the 25-year study period had a transplant.

"The need is increasing; therefore, organ donation must increase. We call for deepened support of solid-organ transplant and donation — worthy endeavours with a remarkable record of achievement and a tremendous potential to do even more good for humankind in the future."

Similarly in Canada, organ transplants are on a decade-long rise in Canada thanks to an increase in the number of deceased donors, but a gap remains.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says between 2003 and 2012, organ transplants included:

- Lung (1,656).

- Heart (1,632).

- Liver  (4,527).

- Kidney (6,941).

In 2012 alone, 230 Canadians with end-stage organ failure died while on a transplant wait list.

Starting in 2012, double-lung transplant recipient Hélène Campbell of Ottawa used her own personal journey to promote organ donations.