Theoretically, anyone can become an organ donor upon his or her death. However, barely 1% of people who die in hospital become organ donors. A person’s ability to become a donor is determined by specific medical and legal criteria.
Main causes of death
The main causes of death that make a good organ donation candidate :
- Head injury, e.g. car accident
- Anoxia, e.g. drowning
Organ donors must experience severe, irreversible loss of neurological function leading to destruction of the brain stem.
Legal criteria governing donation upon death
Three prerequisites govern the legal acceptance of a donor:
- pronouncement of death, according to law, by two physicians who are independent of the transplantation system
- the authorization of the coroner, if required.
Transplant Québec cannot act unless these basic conditions have been met.
When a potential donor meets all legal criteria, Transplant Québec conducts a comprehensive medical and social assessment to determine the deceased person’s eligibility as a candidate for organ transplantation.
Consent for organ and tissue donation may be given in any of three ways:
- Register with the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) organ donor registry, the Registre des consentements au don d’organes et de tissus.
- Sign the sticker and affix it to the back of your health insurance card
- Register with the organ donor registry established by the Chambre des notaires du Québec
For more information on how to consent to organ donation, visit www.signezdon.gouv.qc.ca. Above all, it is especially important that you let your loved ones know your wishes.
Article 45 of the Quebec Civil Code protects patients from the possibility of a premature determination of death; the legislation clearly states that organ or tissue retrieval cannot take place until the donor’s death is established by two physicians not involved in either retrieval or transplantation.