Organs and tissue that can be donated include the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, corneas, bones, skin, and heart valves.
Everyone is a potential donor regardless of age, medical condition or sexual orientation. The oldest Canadian organ donor was ninety-two. Even individuals with serious illnesses can sometimes be donors. Your decision to register should not be based on whether you think you would be eligible or not. All potential donors are evaluated on an individual, medical, case-by-case basis.
When you register your intent to donate, this information is recorded and stored in a Ministry of Health database. Your decision will only be accessed should there be potential for donation and your status as a registered donor will be shared with your family. It is New-Brunswick Organ and Tissue Program’s practice to reaffirm an individual's consent to donate with the family. In most cases, families honour their loved ones' decision to donate if they have evidence that it's what they wanted. But the legal next-of-kin have the final decision. This is why it is important to talk to your family about your wishes; one day this act could save a life.
By registering consent for organ and tissue donation, you give hope to the thousands of New-Brunswickers waiting for a transplant. Individuals on the transplant wait list are suffering from organ failure and without the generous gift of life from an organ donor, they will die. Tissue donors can also enhance the lives of recovering burn victims, help restore sight, and allow people to walk again. Transplants not only save lives, they return recipients to productive lives.
The first and foremost concern for health care professionals caring for critically ill patients is to do everything possible to save lives. The possibility of donation is only considered when all lifesaving efforts have failed.
Once consent is given by the legal next-of-kin, medical tests are completed to determine what organs and tissues are suitable for transplant. The organs are then matched with someone on the transplant wait list and surgery takes place in an operating room at the hospital. The entire donation process, from the time the family agrees to move forward with donation to recovery, takes about 24 to 48 hours to complete.
The New-Brunswick Organ and Tissue Program will work with transplant center to match the donor to an individual(s) on the waitlist. Medical urgency, blood type/group, the size of the organ, and the relative distance (of a prospective match) all form the basic criteria for organ allocation. If a match is found, the individual(s) who, for medical reasons, is the sickest will receive the donated organ. If the medical urgency is the same, the individual who has been on the waitlist the longest will receive the organ. If there is no suitable match within New-Brunswick/Atlantic Canada, a check is made through databases of prospective recipients across Canada and possibly in the United States, in order to save lives.
There are no costs to the donor’s family for organ and tissue donation. However, expenses related to funeral arrangements remain the responsibility of the donor’s family
Organ and tissue donation does not impact funeral plans. Cremation and an open casket funeral are both possible. Organ recovery from the abdomen or chest usually involves one surgical incision that clothing would cover.
Most major religions support organ and tissue donation because it can save the life of another. If your religion restricts the use of a body after death, consult your religious leader: these restrictions may not include organ and tissue donation, if the donation could save another life.