Organ and Body Donation—What You Should Know

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Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “the only gift is a portion of thyself.” What better gift to give than organ donation upon your death? Even though organ donation is a practice that is over half a century old (the first successful donation was in 1954), there are still many questions about organ donation. Here are some of the most frequently misunderstood elements of organ donation.

What is the need?

In Québec, all the people needing an organ transplant are put on a waitlist managed by Transplant Québec, the organization that coordinates the organ donation process. Only when a person dies in hospital under specific circumstances, can their organs be donated. So, as few as 1.4% of people who die in hospital can become organ donors. The numbers translate to approximately 450 to 500 people annually, across Québec, and that too, only if they meet all the requirements.

Why register for organ donation?

Canada uses donor registration to let family members know of your decision. You can have a sticker affixed to the back of your Health Card. The donor registration can also remain confidential and only be accessed at the end of your life to share your choice with your family. You can always change your mind at any time once you register.

Does my religion support organ and tissue donation?

Most major religions do support organ and tissue donations. Talk to your religious leader if you have concerns.

Am I too sick to donate my organs?

Organ donation eligibility is determined at time of death. Every organ is tested for suitability to try and help as many people as possible. Even if you have a serious illness or are older, you may still be able to donate. Every individual case is evaluated based on all medical factors.

Will my family have any costs associated with organ donation?

Your family does not pay anything for organ or tissue donation. However, all funeral arrangements are the responsibility of your family.

Can we still have an open casket if organs and tissues are removed?

Organ donation will not disrupt any funeral plans. You can still have an open casket if you prefer to have a traditional service.

Discuss your organ donation decision with your family today. Although your family cannot override your decision, Transplant Québec prefers that the family consents. It can help your family accept your decision at a difficult time.

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