Organ and Tissue Donation
You can consent to be an organ or tissue donor if you are aged 16 or older and fully understand the nature and consequences of your donation. You can change your mind at any time.
Parents cannot provide prior consent for the donation of organs and tissues of children under 16 years of age. Parents can only consent on behalf of their children if and when the opportunity to donate arises. You cannot consent in advance on behalf of someone else. For more information, read the Human Tissue Donation Act [PDF | 109 KB].
Why should I consent to be an organ and tissue donor?
Many lives could be saved if you consent to donate your organs (heart, liver, pancreas, small bowel, kidneys, and lungs) after your death. You may also give one of your kidneys or a portion of your liver or lung, while you are living.
Donating tissues such as skin, bone, tendons, corneas, whole eyes and heart valves can enhance the life of someone who has been burned, or who has vision or mobility problems.
Did you know?
One donor can provide up to 75 tissue grafts.
- Sclera tissue is used in reconstructive eye surgery.
- Corneas offer sight restoration to those with corneal disease or injury. One donor can provide corneas to two patients on the wait list.
- Heart Valves can save the life of someone with a faulty heart valve.
- Skin grafts can save the life of a critically burned patient.
- Tendons restore mobility and function to joints damaged by age, disease, or injury.
- Bone grafts are utilized in orthopedic procedures such as hip replacements, spinal surgery, limb salvage and repair of traumatic injuries.
How do I register my intention to be an organ or tissue donor?
To register your intention to become an organ or tissue donor, complete the Intent to Donate form [PDF | 251 KB] and mail it to:
126 Douses Road
PO Box 3000
Montague, PE C0A 1R0
As always, you are encouraged to discuss your decision to become an organ and tissue donor with your family.
What if I have already indicated that I want to be a donor on my driver’s licence or PEI health card?
In the past, Islanders could indicate their intention to be a donor on their driver’s licence and PEI Health Card. These methods will be phased out over the next 3-5 years and will be replaced with the Intent to Donate Registry. You may also choose to complete a Health Care Directive [PDF | 185 KB] (living will) to indicate your consent.
Remember to inform members of your family that you choose to be an organ and tissue donor, and update them if you change your mind. Your next of kin will be involved in the donor screening process after your death, so it is helpful if they are aware of your wishes.
What is an Organ and Tissue Intent to Donate Registry?
An Organ and Tissue Intent to Donate Registry is a place for people to indicate, and record, their willingness to donate organs and tissues if they are qualified to be a potential donor at the time of their death.
If I have a health condition, or if I am on medication, can I still be a donor?
While there are certain criteria that must be met to make sure the organs and tissues are safe to donate, your decision to register should not be based on whether you think you would be eligible or not. Research on the safety of organs and tissues for transplant is being done all the time and criteria changes when new information becomes available.
If you would like to be a donor, you can answer “yes” on the form. When organ or tissue donation becomes a possibility, health care professionals will review your health history and make sure that your organs and tissues are safe and healthy enough for donation.
Is there an age limit to be an organ donor?
No, the health of the donor is more important than the age of the donor when donating organs. The oldest organ donor in Canada was 93.
What happens when I die and I have indicated that I want to be an organ donor?
To become an organ donor, you must die in hospital while on life support, and have an irreversible brain injury. If you meet these criteria, you will be referred to the Organ Donor Coordinator in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The coordinator will review your medical history and current health to determine if you could be an organ donor. Your family will be offered the option to donate organs. If your family supports the option to donate, an organ donor coordinator will talk to them about the donation process, get consent, and ask questions about your social history and medical history.
If donation is still a possibility, your body will be transferred to Halifax where brain death will be confirmed and tests will be done to make sure you can be a donor. Your organs will be matched with recipients through a national transplant waiting list using a standardized process. Your family members can travel to Halifax if they wish, or remain on PEI. Once recipients are found, your body will be taken to the operating room. The organs are recovered and taken to the recipient centres to be transplanted. If you can donate tissue, the tissue recovery is done after the organ recovery. After the procedure, your body is transported to your chosen funeral home at no extra cost to your family.
What happens when I die and I have indicated that I want to be a tissue donor?
If you die in a PEI hospital, you will be assessed for your potential to be a tissue donor. If it is possible for you to be a tissue donor, Health PEI staff will call the Regional Tissue Bank in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The specialist from the Tissue Bank will review your medical history and current health to determine if you can be a tissue donor. Your family will be offered the option to donate tissues. If your family supports the option to donate, a Tissue Bank Specialist will talk to them about the donation process, get consent, and ask questions about your social and medical history.
If donation is still a possibility, your body will be transferred to Halifax where the tissue retrieval will take place. After the procedure, your body is transported to your chosen funeral home at no extra cost to your family.
Will being an organ or tissue donor delay my funeral? Will it prevent an open casket funeral?
The surgery to remove organs and tissues is done with the same care as any other surgery. The donor’s body is treated with respect and dignity. All areas affected by organ or tissue removal are reconstructed. This is very important with eye donation. In these cases, the eye area is reconstructed so you cannot tell that surgery was done. Usually, you can expect the body to be released to the funeral home 24-48 hours after the person has passed away.
Most of the time, there is no way to tell that the person was an organ or tissue donor, and you can have an open casket funeral. All donations are confidential; however, if you would like others to know that your loved one was a donor; you may want to include this information in the obituary, the funeral program, or the eulogy. For more information, please contact the Provincial Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Manager at (902) 368-5920.
How can I become a living organ donor?
Healthy adults can become living donors after extensive medical testing determines it is safe for them. Living donors are able to donate a kidney, a portion of your liver, or bone marrow.
You will have a medical examination to determine if it is safe for you to donate, and if you are a match for your intended recipient. Donors and recipients who are well matched have a better chance of a successful transplant.
If your loved one needs a kidney transplant and you are not a match to them, you could still donate your kidney and help them receive a much needed transplant from someone else. Willing, living donors without a specific intended recipient may also register in the Kidney Paired Donation Program. If you are a potential donor or recipient interested in the Living Kidney Donor program, please contact the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia toll-free at 1-888-362-8555 or (902) 473-5501.
Living donor liver transplantation is possible because the liver is able to regenerate. Up to one half of the liver is surgically removed for transplant into a recipient with liver failure. If you are interested in donating a part of your liver, you can find more information on the Living Liver Donor Program at the University Health Network in Toronto, Ontario website.
Is there any support for my expenses if I become a living donor?
You will be reimbursed up to $5,500 maximum for out-of-pocket travel and living expenses if you choose to be a living donor for a PEI resident, or if you choose to enter the Kidney Paired Donation Program.
- Travel – up to $1,500 maximum per donor for travel by plane, train, car, taxi, subway, or bus. (Car mileage is reimbursed based on the current government rate per kilometre)
- Accommodation – total $875 maximum per donor – maximum $125 per night for dates corresponding with donation procedures.
- Meals – total maximum $280 per donor – maximum $40 per day.
- Parking – total maximum $101.50 per donor – maximum $14.50 per day.
- Income Loss – total maximum $3,200- the lesser of $400 per week (pro-rated daily) or 55 per cent net weekly earnings (up to eight weeks). Donors who are unemployed or receiving long-term disability, Government assistance, or Canada pension, are not eligible for income assistance. Loss-of-income reimbursement requires the following documentation:
- Proof of income;
- Physician documentation of time required away from work; and
- A statement confirming another source of income is unavailable.
How do I apply for reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses?
Submit all receipts and official documentation with your claim for reimbursement within 90 days after the transplant procedure to the Provincial Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Manager.
- Your health card number and address;
- Organ/tissue recipient’s health card number and address;
- Date and confirmation of donation procedure;
- Dates for travel and/or accommodation;
- Accommodation address;
- Original travel receipts such as boarding passes, distance travelled for mileage, and parking receipts;
- Total amount paid including taxes (HST, GST, PST); and
- Any other specified documentation.
What is the Kidney Paired Donation Program?
The Kidney Paired Donation Program improves the hope of finding a compatible match for organ transplantation. Canadian Blood Services manages this program which allows for donor-recipient pairs who are not a match to each other, or a single non-directed anonymous donor, to enter a registry to increase the chances of finding a match for a kidney transplant.
Who do I contact if I have more questions about organ and tissue donation?
Provincial Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Manager
95-105 Rochford Street
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
Telephone: (902) 368-5920