If I have a chronic illness or disease, can I still become an organ donor?
Yes you can.
Many people with chronic illnesses are surprised to learn they are eligible to register as organ and tissue donors. In fact, everyone is a potential donor, regardless of their age or health status. Even someone with a serious illness can sometimes donate their organs or tissues. Each donor will be evaluated on an individual, case-by-case basis, and the medical team will assess the potential donor’s overall physical health, medical history and social background, as well as the donor’s general health at the time of death.
Organ donation can only happen when consent is clearly obtained.
This means that a person has either registered as a donor, or the family gives consent after the person dies. Once the consent has been confirmed, the medical team will ensure that extensive laboratory testing is done and they will talk to family members or others who have a detailed knowledge of the donor to understand the donor’s complete medical and social history. To complete the circle, the transplant team caring for a patient who may potentially receive an organ or tissues will also review all available information and weigh any risk factors related to the donor against the benefit of performing a transplant on their patient.
In an effort to minimize potential health risks for transplant recipients, Health Canada implemented the Safety of Human Cells, Tissues, and Organs for Transplantation Regulations in 2007, which ensure safety in the processing of cells, tissues and organs (CTO). These regulations provide the requirements for donor screening, testing and suitability assessment to minimize any risk of disease transmission in transplantation.
Organ donation from one individual can help save up to eight lives while tissue donation from one individual can help up to 15 people.
Remember, when the times comes, it’s the medical team who will decide if your organs and tissues can help someone else and they will inform your family of their decision. So you don’t have to hold back from registering as a donor just because you have concerns about your health.
Making your consent official and talking about it with your loved ones can ensure that your wishes are made clear in any scenario. Transplant Québec coordinates organ donation in Quebec and encourages people to register in any of the following ways.
- Register with the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) organ donor registry, the Registre des consentements au don d’organes et de tissus.
- Get a donation sticker at a CLSC or pharmacy. Sign the sticker and affix it to the back of your health insurance card.
- Register with the organ donor registry established by the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
For more information on how to consent to organ donation, visit www.signezdon.gouv.qc.ca.