Tissue Donation

Often people overlook tissue donation but tissue donors are needed just as much as organ donors.

Tissue donations are also much easier to process as donors can be considered even if they die out of a hospital setting. Tissues do not require the same conditions as organs to remain viable outside the body so donations can occur up to 24 hours after a person’s death and can be stored for extended periods of time.

“I am a burn survivor who experienced 70% 3rd and 4th degree burns. Individuals who choose skin tissue donations saved my life. Today I can play with my grandchildren.

Please help future accident victims by considering organ or tissue donations.”

Vance Easter, tissue recipient

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.

Did You Know?

One donor can provide up to 75 tissue grafts.

Sclera Tissue

Is used in reconstructive eye surgery.

Corneas

Offer sight restoration to those with corneal disease or injury. One donor can provide corneas to two patients on the waitlist.

Heart Valves

Can save the life of someone with a faulty heart valve.

Skin Grafts

Can save the life of a critically burned patient.

Tendons

Restore mobility and function to joints damaged by age, disease, or injury.

Bone Grafts

are utilized in orthopedic procedures such as hip replacements, spinal surgery, limb salvage and repair of traumatic injuries.

Tissue Donation FAQs

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

If you die in a PEI hospital, you will be assessed for your potential to be a tissue donor. If it is possible for you to be a tissue donor, Health PEI staff will call the Regional Tissue Bank in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The specialist from the Tissue Bank will review your medical history and current health to determine if you can be a tissue donor. If you are a candidate for tissue donation, health care professionals will search the Intent to Donate Registry to see if you have registered your donation decision. If you have not, your family will be offered the option to donate tissues. If your family supports the option to donate, a Tissue Bank Specialist will talk to them about the donation process, get consent, and ask questions about your social and medical history.

If donation is still a possibility, your body will be transferred to Halifax where the tissue retrieval will take place. After the procedure, your body is transported to your chosen funeral home at no extra cost to your family.

02 - Who is eligible to donate tissue at death?

All patients have the potential to donate tissue after death. Tissues do not require blood flow at the time of recovery and therefore the opportunity to donate tissue is possible for most patients and families. Ocular tissue for transplantation requires recovery within 12 hours of death. Other tissues can be recovered within a 24 hour time period if the patient has been transferred to the morgue after death.

03 - I know organ donation saves lives, but how does tissue donation help other people?

Donated tissue restores independence and improves quality of life for thousands of Canadians every year. Donated human tissues can be used in many surgical applications, saving and healing lives on a daily basis. Tissue donation can benefit patients in a number of serious or life-threatening medical situations, including saving patients with severe burns, allowing athletes with torn ligaments or tendons to heal and regain strength, restoring hope and mobility to military men and women who have been injured in combat, and repairing musculoskeletal structures such as teeth, skin, and spinal components.

04 - 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 protect 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.

05 - Will the recipient be told who donated the tissues? Will my family be told who received my tissues?

Some families may want to communicate with the tissue transplant recipients and share some information about their loved one. 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.

06 - 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 tissues remain healthy the recovery must take place as soon as possible. The time limit for recovery is just a few hours. Ocular tissue for transplantation requires recovery within 12 hours of death. Other tissues can be recovered within a 24 hour time period if the patient has been transferred to the morgue after death. Most families are also comforted in knowing that out of something so tragic, a wonderful and selfless act may result.

07 - Who do I contact for more information about deceased tissue 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