Organ, Tissue and Full Body Donation
Organ and Tissue Donation
Organ and tissue donation registration programs vary by province and territory but the demand is high across the country; over 4,300 Canadians are on the organ transplant list at any given moment. While organ donation registration has been on the rise, the numbers remain low. Taking the right steps to properly register as an organ donor in your province or territory can save up to 8 lives, and improve the lives of 75 others.
Full Body Donation
Full body donation is a crucial aspect of health sciences education for future doctors, dentists, rehabilitation therapists, and scientists. Most full body donations are used for teaching purposes with students but some are used specifically for medical and research training.
According to the University of British Columbia’s Department of Medicine, “People who donate their bodies to the medical school can be assured that all human remains are accorded the dignity and respect that our society customarily grants the dead.” Many universities host memorial ceremonies with the university community, donor families, medical staff, students, and professionals to honour the memory of our donors. The costs covered by the institutions vary, however, most programs cover the cremation or burial costs. Some programs will cover transportation costs within a limited area.
Talk to your loved ones about your decision
While it is important to register as an organ donor, it is equally important to talk to your next of kin about your choice to partake in organ donation as they have the final say. The same applies to full body donation; your next of kin can refuse body donation, even if you are properly registered with an academic institution. For tips on how to have this conversation with your loved ones, visit our Everything You Need to Know about Organ and Body Donation blog.
It is also recommended that you inform your primary care physician of your choice to participate in either organ or full body donation. Use the charts below to find out where you have to register your decision, and then have an open conversation with your loved ones.
Organ and Tissue Donation in Canada
Province or Territory
Prince Edward Island
*In January of 2021 Nova Scotia passed a “deemed consent” law concerning organ and tissue donation. This means that all Nova Scotians above the age of 18 are considered to be organ donors whether or not they are registered. If you do not want to donate your organs you must opt out.
You can choose what organs and tissues you do not wish to donate. An adult may have to sign for minors in certain provinces and territories.
Full Body Donation in Canada
At this time Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories do not have a full body donation program established.
Academic institutions reserve the right to decline a donation for any reason, so it is recommended that you have alternative arrangements made in case of refusal.
You can be both a registered organ donor and a whole-body donor, however, if solid organ removal for transplant occurs (with the exception of corneal transplant), body donation is no longer possible.
Academic institutions do not provide autopsies or report findings to the next of kin.
Age restrictions vary per academic institution.
Most academic institutions will not accept autopsied bodies. Medical conditions and/or trauma that would disqualify a donation vary per academic institution.
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Last updated June 2022