Organ and tissue donation is one of the few opportunities we have to truly give “The Gift of Life”.
You can read my Mom’s double lung transplant story HERE
Why become an organ donor?
Organ and tissue transplantation is a modern medical miracle, through which thousands of lives have been saved or enhanced. For organ and tissue donors and their families, it is a chance to others a second chance at life. It’s a chance to help others at a time when they are in the most need. For recipients, it is life.
Modern medicine and improved surgical techniques have increased survival rates for recipients but the need for organs and tissues remains greater than ever. That’s why so many people have to wait for a life saving organ transplant – and why some people die before a suitable organ can be found.
You can make a difference. By deciding to become a donor, you are choosing to someday offer someone else the promise of a brighter future.
Who can be a donor?
Anyone, regardless of age, race or religion can donate organs and tissues. The age and health of a donor are not as important as the condition of the donor’s organs and tissues. Let the Doctors decide!
A transplant team assesses the suitability of each donated organ and tissue and matches them with the people on the transplant waiting list.
How can I become an organ or tissue donor?
Choosing to become an organ or tissue donor is a very personal decision but it is very important to share your feelings with your family or anyone else who might be involved with handling your affairs at the time of death.
Once you’ve shared your wishes with your family, sign up on the donor registry. It must be completed legally. In most provinces there is a donor registry linked to the Health Ministry. To sign up you will need your Health Card. If you do not have access to a computer printed forms are available. The old paper cards are not legal in some Provinces. For more information, see ‘How to register your wish to become an organ donor’ below.
What if I change my mind?
Just discard your organ donor card or obtain a new card and write your wishes on it. In cases where your wishes are stated on your health card or in a registry, you will need to obtain a new health card or re-register. Always make sure your family is aware of your wishes.
If I decide to be an organ donor, will there be a conflict between saving my life and donating my organs or tissues?
No. Everything that can be done will be done to save your life. The doctor looking after you cannot be a member of the transplant team or be associated with the proposed recipients in any way.
Will I still be able to have an open casket funeral?
Yes. Organs and tissues are very carefully removed and incisions are closed with the same care provided to living persons. It will not be apparent to anyone viewing the body that organs or tissues have been donated.
Will the recipient of my organs or tissues contact my family?
By law, information about the donor or recipient is confidential.
To download a copy of our ‘Gift of Life’ brochure (which includes an organ donor card), please visit our Publication Library.
How to register your wish to become an organ donor.
As the guidelines for how to register as an organ donor may vary by province, the following provides some preliminary information and a contact for more details.
Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut
To register your consent to be an organ and/or tissue donor, sign an Organ Donor Card in the presence of a witness and discuss your wishes with your family. You can use the Organ Donor Card provided in the CLF’s ‘Gift of Life’ brochure.
When you decide to be an organ and/or tissue donor and have discussed this with your family, you must register with the Organ Donor Registry in British Columbia. Please contact the BC Transplant Society at 604-877-2240 or 1-800-663-6189 or visit their website for more information.
To register your consent to be an organ and/or tissue donor, sign an Organ Donor Card in the presence of a witness and discuss your wishes with your family. You can use the Organ Donor Card provided in the CLF’s ‘Gift of Life’ brochure or you can use the back of your Alberta Health Care card.
Health Cards are issued with an ‘Organ and Tissue Donor’ sticker and an Organ Donation Consent Card. Sign the Organ Donation Consent Card, place the sticker on your health card, then talk to your family about your decision. For additional stickers and cards please call Saskatchewan Health at 1-800-667-7551.
In Manitoba you can register your consent transplant Manitoba online at www.signupforlife.ca.
In Ontario you can register your consent to organ and tissue donation online at www.beadonor.ca. You can also register in-person at ServiceOntario locations, or you can download a consent form to fill out and return by mail. Donor cards are no longer distributed in Ontario and those wishing to show their consent to donation are encouraged to register. For more information, click on the button below.
Information on becoming an organ and/or tissue donor and a sticker to indicate your consent is distributed with all new Quebec Health Cards. To register your consent as an organ and/or tissue donor, place the sticker on your Health Card and talk about your decision with your family.
To register your consent to be an organ and/or tissue donor, sign an Organ Donor Card in the presence of a witness and discuss your wishes with your family. You can use the Organ Donor Card provided in the CLF’s ‘Gift of Life’ brochure or call the Service NB Centres at 1-888-762-8600 for the location of the office nearest your community to pick up one of their organ donor cards.
The Nova Scotia Provincial Organ Donor Registry can identify individuals’ wishes to be an organ and/or tissue donor. This information is maintained on the provincial Health Card database. Once you’ve spoken with your family about your decision to be an organ and/or tissue donor, identify your consent by filling in the donor registration form with your Nova Scotia Health Card renewal. If your Health Card is not due to be renewed at this time, please contact the Organ Donor Registry Office at 902-496-7008 or 1-800-563-8880 for a registration form.
Prince Edward Island
Once you have made the decision to be an organ and/or tissue donor and have discussed this with your family, you can indicate your wish to become a donor by affixing a red sticker on your PEI Health Card and by having a red heart engraved on your driver’s license at renewal time.
Newfoundland and Labrador
To register your consent to be an organ and/or tissue donor, sign an Organ Donor Card in the presence of a witness and discuss your wishes with your family. You can use the Organ Donor Card provided in the CLF’s ‘Gift of Life’ brochure or you can obtain an organ donor card by calling 709-777-6600.
In the US, you can sign up to donate here: http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html
If you know of where you can sign up in your county, please add it below in the comments section.
Below is a link to an interesting site that the Ontario government created called RecycleMe.org. Check it out.
Need more info? Check out these sites: