Blood, organ and tissue donation
Learn about becoming a blood donor. Find out how your donations help and if you can donate.
On this page
- Learn about blood donation
- Learn about becoming an organ and tissue donor
Learn about blood donation
Discover why it is important to become a blood donor and how you can become one.
The need for blood donation in Canada
- There is a constant need for blood and blood components (red blood cells, blood plasma, platelets) in Canada. Every minute of every day someone in Canada needs blood.
- It takes many donors to help save a hospital patient. Some examples include:
- up to 50 donors to help save just 1 person seriously hurt in a car crash,
- up to 5 donors to save someone who needs cardiovascular surgery, and
- up to 8 donors a week to help someone going through treatment for leukemia.
- Only 1 in 60 Canadians gave blood last year, when almost 1 of every 2 Canadians is eligible to donate.
- 52% of Canadians say they or a family member have needed blood or blood products. This was for surgery or medical treatment.
How to donate blood
Learn how you can donate blood in Canada:
- Download the GiveBlood App at the bottom of the Canadian Blood Services website.
- Book an appointment online at blood.ca.
- Call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 866 236 6283).
If you live in Quebec, find out how to donate blood or find a blood clinic near you. Visit Hema-Quebec or call 1 888 666 HEMA (1 888 666 4362).
Government of Canada's role
Health Canada is the regulator of Canada's blood system. The safety of Canada's blood and blood products is a priority for the department.
The Government of Canada supports the Canadian Blood Services to facilitate research and development activities by experts across Canada. These activities are designed to encourage innovation and advancement in blood research and to ensure Canadians have access to safe blood and blood products.
To support a safe, effective and responsive blood system for Canada, the Government of Canada works with:
- Canadian Blood Services
- provinces and territories
- health professionals
Canada's blood system is one of the safest and most advanced in the world.
Learn about becoming an organ and tissue donor
Discover why it is important to become an organ and tissue donor, and how you can become one.
The need for organ donors in Canada
4,500 PEOPLE ARE WAITING FOR ORGAN TRANSPLANTS TODAY
2,124 ORGANS TRANSPLANTED (2012)
256 PEOPLE ON THOSE WAITLISTS DIED BEFORE RECEIVING TRANSPLANTS (2012)
Did you know?
You can donate certain organs while you're still alive: a kidney, part of the liver, and a lobe of the lung.
We need many donors, but not enough Canadians have made plans to donate. In fact, our organ donation rates are lower than many other countries, including the United States. We can do better.
Facts about organ and tissue donation in Canada:
Over 2,000 transplants were performed in 2012. This number has remained virtually unchanged since 2006.
As our population ages, the need for organ and tissue donations will increase
Every year, too many people die waiting for an organ transplant.
Most Canadians waiting for an organ donor are in need of a kidney. Since kidney disease is on the rise in Canada, the need for donors is growing. In 2011, 256 people died waiting for a transplant--a third of them needed a kidney.
There are over 2,000 Canadians waiting for a cornea transplant. Depending on where you live, the wait for a new cornea (the clear front covering on the surface of the eye) could be up to three years. To learn more about organ and tissue donation and transplantation, visit Canadian Blood Services. For residents of Quebec, learn about organ transplants at TRANSPLANT QUEBEC, and learn about tissue transplants at HEMA-QUEBEC.
Become an organ and tissue donor
Find out why it's important to become an organ and tissue donor and how you can register to become one.
Someone has passed away and given me the opportunity to live, and that's the biggest gift anyone could have ever given to anyone else. I have a lot of people to thank. Signing your donor card is one of the best things you can do in your life.
Jamie, Heart recipient
There are more than 4,500 people waiting for organ transplants in Canada today. Unfortunately, only a fraction of Canadians are registered to donate. It only takes a few minutes to become an organ and tissue donor. In those few minutes, the opportunity to give the most precious gift--life--could be yours. Please take the time today and give.
If you decide to become an organ and tissue donor, discuss it with your family and friends. Loved ones are always asked before donation happens, so it's important that they know your wishes.
If you have questions about how organ and tissue donation affects your religious or spiritual practice, speak with your spiritual leader.
It is important to register to be a donor. There are different ways to register and decide what you want to donate depending on your province or territory.
How organ and tissue donation helps
A single donor can give the precious gift of life to many people. Register to donate and you could:
- save as many as 8 lives
- improve the quality of life for up to 75 people
- benefit countless families and loved ones of those in need
Who can be an organ or tissue donor
Anyone can be considered as a potential donor. Age is less important than the health of your organs and tissues.
It is also possible to donate organs while you're still alive. In special cases, living donors:
- can donate a kidney, part of the liver, and a lobe of the lung
- must be old enough to give consent (different in every province or territory)
- must be in good health
Organ transplant results
Transplantation success rates are excellent. Between 80 and 95% of patients are doing well one year after transplant. Overall, transplant recipients enjoy an excellent quality of life and are able to work, attend school, travel and play sports.
Organ donation is not only lifesaving but life giving. As an example, a kidney transplant will prolong the recipient's life and vastly improve the quality of that life. Suddenly, someone who was tied to a dialysis machine has the freedom to travel, the energy to do what they want and the desire to again live life fully.
Dr. Peter Nickerson, Medical Director, Transplantation, Canadian Blood Services
Government of Canada support for organ and tissue donation
Did you know?
Canada is a world leader in the field of transplantation--the world's first single (1983) and double (1986) lung transplants were performed in Ontario.
The Government of Canada supports organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Since 2008, Health Canada has given $21 million to Canadian Blood Services to improve the Canadian donation and transplantation system. Health Canada regulates the safety of the system through the Safety of Human Cells, Tissues and Organs for Transplantation Regulations.
Health Canada delivers a national regulatory compliance and enforcement program for human cells, tissues and organs for transplantation. Serious adverse reactions to transplants are monitored by Health Canada.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research invested over $76 million in research linked to transplantation between 2006 and 2012. In December 2011, the institutes launched the Canadian National Transplant Research Program. This program aims to:
- increase organ and tissue donation
- improve transplantation survival rates
- enhance the quality of life of Canadians who receive transplants
For more information
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