Deceased Donation

Right now there are approximately 4,400 Canadians waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.

Unfortunately, not everyone in need of a vital organ will receive one. In fact, on average there are 250 Canadians that die each year waiting for an organ transplant.

“When my daughters and I were presented with the option of my wife, Lynda, being an organ donor, no discussion was needed. We all knew immediately that if there was a possibility of even one person being able to resume a normal life because of, and despite our personal tragedy, it was the right thing to do. Although I have not come to terms with the “why” of Lynda’s death, the knowledge that others were able to resume a full life with family and friends has been a personal joy to me. It gives some sense to what happened.”

Outlon Family, husband and daughters of deceased donor

Register as an Organ and/or Tissue Donor

We encourage all Islanders to register their decision to become an organ and tissue donor and share their decisions with their family and loved ones. Since its inception in fall of 2015, over 50,000 Islanders (and counting), have said yes to becoming an organ and/or tissue donor.

It is crucial that your loved ones know your decision to be an organ donor so that they can honor and support your wishes.

In Canada, there are two ways to become a deceased organ donor and both options are available to Islanders. These options are:

Neurological Determination of Death

NDD also referred to as “brain death” meaning the brain has permanently lost all function and death has been determined using neurological criteria.

Donation After Circulatory Death

DCD is an option for patients who have severe brain injuries that do not meet the criteria for brain death. Once a decision to remove all life-sustaining treatments has been made, organ donation may be offered to the family. Everything will be put in place before the life-sustaining treatments are removed so that once the person’s heart stops beating, and they have experienced circulatory death, organ retrieval can begin.

Deceased Donation FAQs

01 - What happens when I die and I have indicated that I want to be an organ donor?

To become an organ donor, you must die in hospital while on life support, and have an irreversible brain injury. If you meet these criteria, you will be referred to the Organ Donor Coordinator in Halifax, Nova Scotia or Moncton, New Brunswick. The coordinator will review your medical history and current health to determine if you could be an organ donor. If you are medically suitable to be an organ donor, health care professionals will check the Intent to Donate Registry to determine your wishes for donation. Your family will be asked to support your decision or, if you have not made a decision, they will be asked to decide for you. If your family supports the option to donate, an organ donor coordinator will talk to them about the donation process, get consent, and ask questions about your social history and medical history. 

 If donation is still a possibility, your body will be transferred to Halifax or Moncton where tests will be done to make sure you can be a donor. Your organs will be matched with recipients through a national transplant waiting list using a standardized process. Your family members can travel to Halifax or Moncton if they wish, or remain on PEI. Once recipients are found, your body will be taken to the operating room. The organs are recovered and taken to the recipient centers to be transplanted. If you can donate tissue, the tissue recovery is done after the organ recovery. After the procedure, your body is transported to your chosen funeral home at no extra cost to your family.

02 - If my family decides to travel to Halifax or Moncton, will they receive financial support?

There is some financial support available to families who decide to travel to be with their loved ones until the donation takes place. Hospital foundations can provide Confederation Bridge Passes, gas cards, and meal vouchers to families. It can take 24 to 48 hours to complete the required tests, find recipients, and arrange organ retrieval.

03 - Will the quality of medical treatment be affected if I am a known donor?

No. Your health care team’s first priority is to save your life. If it is not possible to save your life, the opportunity to save another life through donation will be explored. Strict laws are in existence, which protects the potential donor. Legal guidelines must be followed before death can be certified. The physician certifying a patient’s death is not involved with the organ procurement or with the transplant.

04 - Will the recipient be told who donated the organs? Will my family be told who received my organs?

Some families may want to communicate with the organ or tissue transplant recipients and share some information about their loved ones. Writing to a recipient is a personal decision and the timing of when you write (if at all) may vary. What may be right for you may not be right for someone else. It may be possible to have direct contact with transplant recipients at least one year post transplant. Communication will be coordinated through your family support liaison.

05 - Why are the families of potential donors asked so quickly if they would like to donate? Can’t the question be asked at a later time?

We understand that losing a loved one is a most stressful and sorrowful time; however, to ensure that organs and tissues remain healthy the recovery must take place as soon as possible.  It can take 24 to 48 hours to complete the required tests, find recipients, and arrange organ retrieval so the earlier the process is started, the more likely it is that the transplant will be successful. Most families are also comforted in knowing that out of something so tragic, a wonderful and selfless act may result.

06 - Who do I contact for more information about deceased organ donation?

Email: organandtissue@gov.pe.ca

Phone: 902-368-5920

Mailing Address: 
Organ and Tissue Donation
Sullivan Building (3rd Floor)
16 Fitzroy Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7N8