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New Brunswick missed screening more than 1,800 possible tissue, ocular donors – CBC.ca

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New Brunswick has missed the opportunity to screen more than 1,800 potential tissue or ocular donors because no one was available to screen them, according to new figures obtained by CBC News through access to information.

The numbers, which capture the period April 2017 to September 2019, show the province has widespread gaps in its tissue and ocular donation program.

The figures don’t capture organ donation, which is separate and runs 24 hours a day, according to Horizon Health Network, which operates the New Brunswick Organ and Tissue Program.

Horizon estimates about four per cent of potential donor “referrals” will become tissue or ocular donors.

That would mean the 1,851 missed potential donors could have translated into about 74 actual donors, giving life-altering tissue or ocular donations such as corneas, tendons and bones. 

The numbers were “shocking” and “disappointing” for Michelle Astle, whose 16-year-old son, Avery, was one of the 1,851 missed potential donors.

“I think people in general have a trust that our system is not failing their citizens, their customers,” Astle said.

“However, with those stats, it’s proving that we are failing.”

Avery’s parents were hoping his blue eyes could help another person see the world. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Avery and three of his friends — Emma Connick, Logan Matchett and Cassie Lloyd — died following a devastating car crash in Miramichi last Easter weekend.

The Astles remember their son as someone who always did the right thing and always wanted to help others. While they don’t believe Avery could have donated his organs, they were at least hoping he could provide a tissue or ocular donation that could help improve someone else’s quality of life. 

But when the Astles asked staff at the Moncton Hospital about donating Avery’s organs and tissues, they say they were told no one was available to facilitate the donation.

Earlier this year, provincial Health Minister Ted Flemming noted in the legislature that the crash happened “late at night on a Saturday between a Good Friday holiday and an Easter Sunday holiday.” 

“Sometimes, things like this unfortunately and regrettably happen,” Flemming said in the legislature on May 9, adding that he would “work hard to try to see that it is improved.”

But Astle said the statistics show it isn’t just a problem on holiday weekends.

“That obviously wasn’t the case, because you’re going month to month to month, and that many people not getting assessed,” she said.

‘Still work to be done’

In addition to Avery, 62 other potential donors weren’t screened in April because the program was closed or there was no technician on call, the figures show.

The month with the highest number of missed screenings was December 2018, with 112.

According to the data provided by Horizon, the program could be closed for a variety of reasons, including that the retrieval team is already working on a recovery for another donation. A technician might not be on call because of a “staff shortage and planned or unplanned absences.”

No one from the health authority was made available for an interview.

Human tissue is stored in the eye bank at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Saint John. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

Horizon sent along more recent statistics, which show “far fewer gaps in service” so far this fiscal year.

In August and September, the most recent months for which numbers are available, the program missed screening 31 and 27 potential donors, respectively.

“While Horizon acknowledges there is still work to be done in terms of addressing the gaps that continue to exist in our ocular and tissue programs, it is clear we are making progress,” Nadya Savoie, director of the New Brunswick Organ and Tissue Program, wrote in an emailed statement.

Savoie said the program has been able to hire and train new staff members, which has increased on-call service.

The picture elsewhere

In comparison, the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Regional Tissue Bank is “always operating” with a full staff complement, according to an emailed statement from Harold Taylor, health services manager of the tissue bank.

Nova Scotia’s program has missed only five donations since April of this year.

A recovery suite at the Regional Tissue Bank at the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service building in Dartmouth, N.S. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

“We have recently developed a service delivery model for tissue donation to be efficient and sustainable in the face of new legislation, and have developed a more effective referral process,” Taylor wrote.

In comparison, New Brunswick missed 204 potential donors between April and the end of September, Horizon’s figures show.

A spokesperson for Eastern Health in Newfoundland and Labrador said that province “does not have an ocular or tissue donation program.” Instead, the province imports tissue, including ocular tissue, for transplants.

Prince Edward Island doesn’t do tissue and ocular donation, according to a spokesperson for Health PEI. Potential donors are referred to the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Regional Tissue Bank.

A new policy

In New Brunswick, in cases where a family wants to donate but no one is available to screen the potential donor, a new policy means there will always be a program member available to answer family members’ questions, Savoie wrote.

“We have already witnessed some successes as a direct result of this measure and are optimistic that will continue to be the case moving forward.”

But Astle said the new policy isn’t good enough because it still relies on family members to ask about donation.

Michelle Astle has spent the last eight months advocating for a better tissue donation system in New Brunswick, in memory of her 16-year-old son, Avery. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

“I can see why many wouldn’t [ask] because you’re in such grief and shock,” Astle said.

“It shouldn’t be up to the family to ask. They should be coming to the family and explaining it and saying, ‘Are you willing?'”

‘We need to do better’

In the eight months since she said goodbye to Avery, Astle has had many dark days. But she’s also seen some light.

The Astles have started a campaign called Let’s Act 4 Avery to spread the word about donation, and she believes his story has already had an impact.

On her Christmas tree, she’s hung several ornaments made in Avery’s memory.

“It is always the right time to do the right thing,” one says.

“There’s been a lot of really good things to come out of it,” Astle said.

Michelle Astle keeps this framed sign underneath her Christmas tree in memory of her 16-year-old son, Avery. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

But she believes there’s more to be done to make things better.

Horizon’s statement doesn’t mention what prompted a new policy and changes in the tissue donation program. That doesn’t sit well with Astle.

“The only reason those changes have happened is because we stood up and we spoke up. It’s because of Avery,” she said.

“So to me, at least own that and say, ‘Thank you, and because of your son these changes have been made to help others.'”

Michelle Astle has a collection of pictures of 16-year-old Avery in her living room, including this one with his sister, Alexa. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Asked what Avery would think about the number of missed potential donations, Astle said her son always found a way to see the good in everything. She doesn’t think he would have wanted to dwell on the negative. 

“It would be, ‘Well there’s a chance there to help save others and they’re doing the best they can,’ would be what Avery would say,” Astle said. 

“But mother bear kicks in and says, we need to do better.”

An ornament made in memory of Avery to raise awareness for the Let’s Act 4 Avery campaign hangs on Michelle Astle’s tree. Beside it is a doughnut ornament, a reminder of the doughnut socks Avery loved to wear. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

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DeMille Anticipates Broader Rollout Of 4th Dose Vaccination – Country 105

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The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is getting ready for the annual flu shot campaign, as well as a broader ask for arms to get the fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The province expanded the second booster dose eligibility on April 7th to those who are 60 and over as well as First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over.

“At this time, I’m not hearing any indication of the province opening up (eligibility) to the broader population, and I’m not sure really we would have evidence that would be needed at this time,” DeMille told Acadia News Monday. “We are much lower in terms of the amount of COVID-19 (cases) in the province of Ontario. With the summertime, we see overall less spread (of the virus).”

DeMille did mention that the District anticipates the call will get broader in the fall.

As of June 21st, 133,334 people within the TBDHU have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 80,719 have received three doses.

Officials have given fourth doses to 18,687 individuals as of the last update.

DeMille was also asked about a return to school in September, and what that might look like after Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Federal MPs on June 8th that there is a real threat of the seventh wave of COVID-19.

The Medical Officer says it’s hard to look into the crystal ball and pinpoint what will happen based on the fact that right now a majority of the new infections are the Omicron variant.

“The schools overall did fairly well,” DeMille stated. “We know that a lot of people did get infected, which can cause a lot of disruption because people still need to isolate so that they are not spreading (the virus) to others. Likely a lot of spread happened in the schools when we re-opened in January and through the last few waves.”

DeMille noted that the schools took a lot of measures that helped in previous waves, including improving ventilation.

“I anticipate that (masking) will always be optional, but when the Omicron variant is spreading, it’s always helpful when people are masking in indoor spaces when they are interacting with others,” said DeMille. “(Down the road) we might recommend that people wear masks in schools, but that advice will really depend on what we see circulating, how much it is circulating and what the impact is on schools.”

DeMille mentioned whether it is the school, the workplace, or any other indoor space, the goal is to return to as normal as possible in an eventual post-pandemic world.

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Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, says WHO – Global News

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Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled on Saturday, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

“I am deeply concerned about the monkeypox outbreak, this is clearly an evolving health threat that my colleagues and I in the WHO Secretariat are following extremely closely,” Tedros said.

The “global emergency” label currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the U.N. agency has stepped back from applying it to the monkeypox outbreak after advice from a meeting of international experts.

Read more:

Canada signs $32.9M contract for smallpox drug with manufacturer Chimerix

There have been more than 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox and one death reported in the last six weeks from 48 countries where it does not usually spread, according to WHO.

So far this year almost 1,500 cases and 70 deaths in central Africa, where the disease is more common, have also been reported, chiefly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Monkeypox, a viral illness causing flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading largely in men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic.

It has two clades – the West African strain, which is believed to have a fatality rate of around 1% and which is the strain spreading in Europe and elsewhere, and the Congo Basin strain, which has a fatality rate closer to 10%, according to WHO.


Click to play video: 'More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll'



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More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll


More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll – Jun 17, 2022

There are vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, although they are in limited supply.

The WHO decision is likely to be met with some criticism from global health experts, who said ahead of the meeting that the outbreak met the criteria to be called an emergency.

However, others pointed out that the WHO is in a difficult position after COVID-19. Its January 2020 declaration that the new coronavirus represented a public health emergency was largely ignored by many governments until around six weeks later, when the agency used the word “pandemic” and countries took action.

(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; additional reporting by Mrinmay Dey; Editing by Sandra Maler)

© 2022 Reuters

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Kingston, Ont., area health officials examining future of local vaccination efforts – Global News

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More than 455,000 people in the Kingston region have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Now health officials say they’re using the summer months, with low infection rates, to look ahead to what fall might bring, urging those who are still eligible to get vaccinated do so.

Read more:

Kingston Health Sciences Centre to decommission COVID-19 field site

“Large, mass immunization clinics, mobile clinics, drive-thru clinics and small primary care clinics doing their own vaccine,” said Brian Larkin with KFL&A Public Health.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Gerald Evans says those who are still eligible for a third and fourth dose should take advantage and roll up their sleeves during the low-infection summer months.

“Now in 2022, although you still might get COVID, you’re probably not going to be very sick. You are less likely to transmit and ultimately that’s one of the ways we’re going to control the pandemic,” added Evans.

He expects another wave of COVID-19 to hit in late October to early November and that a booster may be made available for those younger than 60 who still aren’t eligible for a fourth dose.

Read more:

Kingston, Ont. COVID assessment centre cuts hours for the summer

“The best case scenario is a few more years of watching rises in cases, getting boosters to control things and ultimately getting out of it with this being just another coronavirus that just tends to cause a respiratory infection and worst-case scenario is a new variant where all the potential possibilities exist to have a big surge in cases and hopefully not a lot more serious illness,” said Evans.

Public Health says they’re still waiting for direction from the province on what’s to come this fall.

“We’re expecting that we would see more age groups and younger age groups be eligible for more doses or boosters but about when those ages start, we have yet to have that confirmed,” said Larkin.

The last 18 months of vaccines paving the way for the new normal could mean a yearly COVID booster alongside the annual flu shot.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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