FAQs

  1. WHO?

    1. Who can donate organs?
      • Anyone can donate his or her organs or tissues. In order to determine which, if any, organs can be retrieved from a deceased donor, Transplant Québec and its medical team assess the potential donor’s overall physical health, medical history and social background, as well as the donor’s general health at the time of death.
        For human tissues, Héma-Québec coordinates the process. Héma-Québec 
    2. Is there an age limit for donating organs?
      • No. Anyone, regardless of age, can be considered a potential donor. What really counts is the quality of the organs and tissues. In Quebec, the oldest organ donor was 88; on the opposite end of the age scale, the heart valves of a 2-day-old baby were also donated. The average age of donors is around 50.
    3. Can the organs of a person who dies at home be retrieved?
      • No. The death must occur in a hospital under very specific conditions. The causes of death most likely to lead to an organ donation are:
        • - strokes 
        • - head injuries
        • - cerebral anoxia resulting from hanging, cardiovascular arrest, drowning, etc.
        • - certain primary brain tumours.
    4. If I suffer from a serious illness, may I still consent to donating my organs?
      • Anyone, regardless of age, health or sexual orientation can be considered a potential donor. Don’t make a decision based on the belief that you may not qualify as an organ donor. What really counts is the quality of your organs. The medical team will make its decision at the appropriate time.

        If you would like to donate, please sign. You can give your consent in any of three ways:www.signezdon.gouv.qc.ca
    5. Can homosexuals be considered as potential organ donors?
      • Anyone, regardless of age, health or sexual orientation can be considered a potential donor. Don’t make a decision based on the belief that you may not qualify as an organ donor. What really counts is the quality of your organs. The medical team will make its decision at the appropriate time.

      • If you would like to donate, please sign. You can give your consent in any of three ways: www.signezdon.gouv.qc.ca
    6. Which aspects of a potential donor’s social background are verified?
      • The aspects verified include tobacco, alcohol and drug use, exposure to toxins, high-risk (sexual) behaviours and countries visited.
  2. WHAT?

    1. Which organs and tissues can be retrieved for transplantation purposes?
      • The organs that can be transplanted are the kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas (and pancreatic islets) and intestine. The main tissues transplanted are bones, skin, heart valves, veins, tendons, ligaments and eye tissue (including cornea). By donating organs or tissues upon death, a person can save up to eight lives and restore health to 40 other people.
    2. Will the organs and tissues be used for scientific research purposes?
      • When an organ is retrieved and turns out to be medically unsuitable for transplantation, the organ could be used for research, provided that specific consent to that effect is obtained. The family must consent if the deceased person has not made his or her wishes known beforehand.

        Moreover, in addition to donating organs, a person may wish to donate his or her body for academic or scientific purposes. For more information, click here. (in French only)
    3. What does Transplant Québec do with respect to living donation?
      • Transplant Québec oversees Quebec’s Living Organ Donor Expense Reimbursement Program. Living donors of a kidney or liver lobe can be reimbursed for certain expenses directly related to the process that could potentially lead to a donation. For more information, visit the section of our site about living donation.
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  3. HOW?

    1. How are organs allocated?
      • Organs are allocated according to a variety of medical and anatomical factors including: blood type, tissue compatibility, weight, height, medical urgency and the date the potential recipient was placed on the province’s sole waiting list. The decision to put a patient on the list is the responsibility of the hospital’s transplant program and the attending physicians of the patients awaiting an organ. Transplant Québec manages the list of people awaiting a transplant and is responsible for allocating organs.
    2. During retrieval, does someone verify that the donor is really dead?
      • Yes. The person’s death is attested to and certified independently by two physicians not associated with the organ and tissue retrieval and transplantation teams (Civil Code of Quebec, art. 45).
    3. If I give my consent to donate organs and tissues, will doctors still do everything they can to save my life?
      • Yes. Every physician’s primary concern is saving patients’ lives.
    4. Are there any costs involved in donating organs and tissues?
      • No, families do not incur any costs in relation to an organ or tissue donation. However, funeral arrangements remain the family’s responsibility. Transportation of the body to the funeral home is also the family’s responsibility, unless agreed otherwise.
    5. Is it still possible to have a public viewing at the funeral home?
      • Yes. Organs and tissues are retrieved by specialized teams who ensure that the retrieval is performed with the same degree of human respect as any other surgical procedure; in so doing, they ensure that the donor’s appearance is not affected.
    6. If I want to sign an organ donor consent card but don’t want to donate tissues, what do I have to do?
      • If you would like to limit your donation to your organs, you can specify it on the sticker on the back of your health insurance card and mention it to your loved ones.
  4. WHERE?

    1. Which Quebec hospitals perform transplants?
      • For adults: Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) – Hôpital Notre-Dame, CHUM – Hôpital St-Luc, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) – Royal Victoria Hospital, Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Montreal Heart Institute, Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS) – Hôpital Fleurimont, Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHUQ) – Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, and the Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec.

      • For children : Centre hospitalier universitiaire Saint-Justine, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) – Montreal Children’s Hospital, Centre mère-enfant du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHUQ). To learn more click here.
    2. Can organ transplants take place in remote areas?
      • Yes. Potential donors can be identified at remote-area hospitals. With the family’s consent, the potential donor will be transferred to a hospital equipped for organ and tissue retrieval. The body of the deceased will then be returned to its original location at no cost to the family.
  5. CONSENT

    1. What happens when the deceased did not make his or her wishes known?
      • Upon a person’s death, if his or her wishes are not known, the medical team will consult the next of kin to ask if they would like to donate their loved one’s organs or tissues. Some families refuse only because they were unaware of their loved one’s wishes.
    2. What happens if I have given my consent on my health insurance card, but when I die, my family opposes my wishes?
      • Pursuant to the Civil Code of Quebec, the family must honour the deceased’s decision.

        In cases where the deceased had notified loved ones of his or her wishes, it is rare to find instances when they do not honour those wishes. It is usually when the wishes of the deceased are not known that the family will refuse out of fear of having to make a difficult decision on their loved one’s behalf.

      • In practice, doctors take families’ wishes into account because the family may be aware of recent changes to their loved one’s wishes. The next of kin may also be able to provide invaluable information on the medical and social background of the deceased. This background is part of the information used to assess a potential donor’s eligibility.

    3. What is the family's role in the organ donation process ? 
      • Family members and loved ones help the healthcare team carry out the deceased’s wish to donate his or her organs.

        When the time is right, the medical team presents the organ donation option to the family of a potential donor and confirms the deceased person’s consent, if it was given, thereby authorizing the retrieval of organs. The family’s cooperation is also vital, in that they can provide information about the deceased’s medical history and social background to Transplant Québec’s clinical coordinator/advisor to help complete the donor’s eligibility file.
    4. How can I obtain a consent sticker or otherwise consent to donate organs or tissues?
    5. Is it possible to consent to donate organs and tissues once and for all without having to sign the sticker every time I renew my health insurance card?
      • Yes. You can register with the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec’s organ donor registry, the Registre des consentements au don d’organes et de tissus. You can also have your decision officialized (be it consent or refusal) by your notary. For more information on this topic, visit the Signez don! Web site. signezdon.gouv.qc.ca.
  6. ANONYMITY

    1. Are the donor’s and recipient’s identity revealed?
      • No. Organ donation is an anonymous gesture. However, an organ recipient who wishes to contact the donor’s family, or vice-versa, may get in touch with Transplant Québec; once the organization has received the other party’s consent, Transplant Québec will pass the message along. Transplant Québec will always safeguard the anonymity of all parties.
    2. Can a recipient contact the donor’s family to express his or her gratitude?
      • Yes, it is possible to send a thank-you letter through the intermediary of Transplant Québec. The recipient can speak with one of Transplant Québec’s clinical coordinators/advisors, who will explain the procedure and provide a pamphlet offering further information. However, to protect everyone’s privacy, the letter must not contain any information that could identify either of the parties.
    3. Can the members of the donor’s family contact the recipient?
      • Yes, it is possible for the donor’s family members to write to the recipient. The family members can speak with one of Transplant Québec’s clinical coordinators/advisors, who will explain the procedure and provide a pamphlet offering further information. However, to protect everyone’s privacy, the letter must not contain any information that could identify either of the parties.
  7. OTHER

    1. Can organs or tissues be bought or sold?
      • No. In Canada, as in many other countries, both the sale and the purchase of organs are illegal.
    2. Are donations to Transplant Québec allowed?
      • Yes. Monetary contributions help support the cause of organ donation.

        Transplant Québec is the official organization mandated by the MSSS to coordinate the organ donation process in Quebec. The organization is also responsible for promoting and raising public awareness of organ donation.

        Transplant Québec is recognized as a charitable organization by the Canada Revenue Agency. As such, the organization issues tax receipts for all donations of $25 or more.
    3. Does Transplant Québec solicit funds?
      • No. Transplant Québec does not solicit funds by phone or any other means.
    4. Does Transplant Québec need volunteers?
      • Yes, particularly with raising public awareness of the importance of donating organs.
        1. Testimonial – media
        2. Testimonial – conference
        3. Administrative work (linked to public awareness activities)
        4. Organization of activities
      • For more information, contact the Communications and Public Relations Department at 514-286-1414, ext. 230, or call the Info-don hotline at 1-877-463-6366. You may also refer to the relevant section on our Web site