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Temporary Visitor Visas for Donating a Kidney

As a resident in the newly created Vancouver-Granville riding and a nephrologist (internal medicine doctor specializing in kidney medicine), I’m asking the following of my political candidates:

Immigration Canada should offer expedited approval for a Visitors Visa to those individuals coming to Canada for living kidney donation to a Canadian or permanent resident (with the requirement for documentation from a Canadian nephrologist).

I frequently look after patients who need a kidney transplant. They often have family or friends in other countries who would like to donate a kidney, but are unable to get an expedited visitor’s visa from Immigration Canada in order to facilitate a transplant.

When patients don’t get kidney transplants, they have worse health outcomes (including much higher risk of dying) and it costs our healthcare system strikingly more to look after their care.

In fact, the evidence to date demonstrates a significant advantage for allograft and patient survival associated with preemptive transplantation. In addition, preemptive transplantation is associated with better quality of life for these patients and is less costly than dialysis.

 
Meier-Kriesche HU1, Schold JD. The impact of pretransplant dialysis on outcomes in renal transplantation. Semin Dial. 2005 Nov-Dec;18(6):499-504. PMID: 16398713.

 

We also know that time is of the essence.  Getting a transplant prior to starting dialysis (known as pre-emptive transplantation) results in much better patient outcomes than waiting to get a transplant after one starts dialysis.

 
Davis CL1. Preemptive transplantation and the transplant first initiative. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2010 Nov;19(6):592-7. PMID: 20827196.

 

This means we need to move fast when we recognize a patient is about to start dialysis.  And getting a temporary visitors visa from Immigration Canada simply doesn’t happen fast enough.

 

So, my question to all political candidates:  Would you support expedited temporary visitors visas for potential kidney transplant donors?

If the answer is yes, let me know and I’ll happily share the information with my physician colleagues.

Remember, this would be win-win for Canadians and our limited healthcare budget. Please support this simple, common sense strategy to improve care and reduce healthcare costs.

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