Organ and tissue donation
- Become a donor
- The need for donors in Canada
- How you can help
- Government of Canada support for donation
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Become a donor
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 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.
For more information, choose the area where you live in the map below.
The need for 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 and tissues 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 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 need new kidneys. 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.
How you can help
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 a donor
Anyone can be a potential donor. Age is less important than the health of your organs and tissues.
It is also possible to donate 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
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 life saving 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 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
My donors are my heroes – they always will be. For making that choice to help others, to save lives and enhance lives… I hope many others talk to their families and relatives and register…to be a hero.
Sandra, Cornea recipient
For more information
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