Planning to Be an Organ Donor

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Planning to Be an Organ Donor

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Donating one or more of your organs after your death can help save another person's life. Over 4,000 people in Canada are now waiting for the gift of an organ to become available for an organ transplant.

Most people can be organ donors. If you are interested in donating organs or tissues, visit the Canadian Association of Transplantation (CAT) website online at to get more information and to find provincial information on organ donation.

How can you be an organ donor?

Plan ahead. Some provinces give you the option to become a donor when you apply for a driver's licence or when you renew your licence. Other provinces have a form you can fill out in person or online and file with your provincial organ donor registry. Either way, your name goes on a list of possible donors, and your status is noted on your driver's licence or provincial health care card. To find out what's required in your province, check with your doctor or call your local transplant centre.

People of any age can register to be organ donors. In many provinces there's no minimum age, though an adult might have to sign for someone under age 18.

If you've decided to become a donor, be sure to let your family, friends, and doctor know.

What organs can you donate?

You can donate organs or tissues.

Organs to donate include:

Tissues to donate include:

Can you choose what to donate?

Yes, you can choose what organs and tissues you would like to offer for donation. You can also choose to donate for transplant, for research, or for educational purposes.

What are the facts about organ donation?

You don't have to be young and in perfect health to be a donor. There are no age limits to putting your name on a donor registry. And you don't have to be perfectly healthy to donate an organ. It's the health of a certain organ that matters. Talk with your doctor or local organ procurement organization (OPO) if you have questions.

If you're on the donor registry, you will get the life-saving care you need when you need it. You won't be denied care in order to obtain your organs. Provincial laws and emergency medical practices ensure that your life comes first. The medical staff who take care of you are completely separate from the organ donation system. Only when a donor has died does a medical team contact the organ donation network to arrange a donation.

Donating an organ costs you nothing. It doesn't cost the receiving patient's family, either. The cost of removing the organs and transporting them is paid by the organ procurement organization.

Priority for transplants is by "most healthy recipient." This means that the organ will go to the patient for whom the transplant will most likely be successful. The financial status or celebrity of the recipient is not considered.

Having an open-casket funeral is possible for organ donors. The surgery to remove the organs is easy to cover up with clothing or prosthetics.

All major religions allow organ donation. The Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu faiths encourage organ donation or leave it up to individual choice. Ask your spiritual adviser if you have questions about your religion's views on organ donation.

Other Places To Get Help


American Society of Transplantation
15000 Commerce Parkway
Suite C
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
Phone: (856) 439-9986
Fax: (856) 439-9982
Web Address:

Healthy Transplant is a Web site sponsored by the American Society of Transplantation. This Web site was created to help people learn about transplantation. Patients can build a profile and take an active role in their health care. The Web site was created to help patients and family members understand more about transplantation and help people be more involved in their health care.

Canadian Association of Transplantation 774 Echo DriveOttawa, ON  K1S 5N8
Web Address:

The Canadian Association of Transplantation (CAT) was created in 1987 and has been instrumental in promoting organ/tissue donation and transplantation in Canada. This Web site provides helpful information and links for people in need of an organ transplant as well as those interested in becoming an organ donor.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised August 23, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.