Topic Overview


Donating one or more of your organs after your death can help save another person's life. Over 4,500 people in Canada are now waiting for the gift of an organ to become available for an organ transplant.

Most people can be organ donors. If you are interested in donating organs or tissues, go to where you can find links to the organ donor organization in your province to get more information.

How can you be an organ donor?

Plan ahead. To become an organ donor, put your name on your province's donor registry. Many provinces give you the option to become a donor when you apply for a driver's licence or when you renew your licence. Other provinces have a form you can fill out in person or online and file with your provincial organ donor registry. Either way, your name goes on a list of possible donors, and your status is noted on your driver's licence or provincial health care card.

People of nearly any age can register to be organ donors. In many provinces there's no minimum age, though an adult might have to sign for someone under age 18. There may be an upper age limit, depending on your province and the type of organ.

If you've decided to become a donor, be sure to let your family, friends, and doctor know. And include your wish to be an organ donor when you prepare an advance care plan.

What organs can you donate?

You can donate organs or tissues.

Organs to donate include:

Tissues to donate include:

Can you choose what to donate?

Yes, you can choose what organs and tissues you would like to offer for donation. Or you can choose to donate any organs that are needed. You can also choose to donate for transplant, for research, or for educational purposes.

What are the facts about organ donation?

You don't have to be young and in perfect health to be a donor. There may be age limits, depending on your province and the type of organ. You don't have to be perfectly healthy to donate an organ. It's the health of a certain organ that matters. Talk with your doctor or local organ donor organization if you have questions.

If you're on the donor registry, you will get the life-saving care you need when you need it. You won't be denied care in order to obtain your organs. Provincial laws and emergency medical practices ensure that your life comes first. The medical staff who take care of you are completely separate from the organ donation system.

Donating an organ costs you nothing. It doesn't cost the receiving patient's family, either. The cost of removing the organs and transporting them is paid by the organ donation organization in your province.

Priority for transplants depends on a number of things, which may include:

  • Tissue and blood type.
  • The length of time the person has spent on the waiting list.
  • The distance between the donor and recipient.
  • The recipient's health.
  • Medical urgency.

The financial status or celebrity of the recipient is not considered.

Having an open-casket funeral is possible for organ donors. The surgery to remove the organs is easy to cover up with clothing or prosthetics.

All major religions allow organ donation. The Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu faiths encourage organ donation or leave it up to individual choice. Ask your spiritual advisor if you have questions about your religion's views on organ donation.

Other Places To Get Help


Canadian Liver Foundation
Canadian Lung Association


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine

Current as ofNovember 20, 2015