It can be difficult to think about what's going to happen to your body after you die, let alone donating your organs and tissue. Being an organ and tissue donor is a generous and worthwhile decision that can be a lifesaver for someone else. Many folks never consider donation or delay becoming “a donor because of possibly inaccurate information, here are answers to some common organ donation myths and concerns.”
Note that in this article we have provided general information for Canadians. As we operate as a cremation provider (as of Spring 2022) in Ontario and Nova Scotia, we have also added sections that are unique to each province to support our regional clients. However there are linked resources provided in this post linked for all provinces.
The information in the list below was excerpted from from the Mayo Clinic:
Myth: If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won't work as hard to save my life.
Fact: When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life — not somebody else's. You'll be seen by a doctor whose expertise most closely matches your particular condition and who can give you the best care possible.
Myth: Maybe I won't really be dead when they sign my death certificate.
Fact: Although it's a popular topic in the tabloids, in reality, people don't start to wiggle their toes after they're declared dead. In fact, people who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests (at no charge to their families) to determine that they're truly dead than are those who haven't agreed to organ donation.
Myth: Organ donation is against my religion.
Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. These religions include Roman Catholic Christians, Islam, most branches of Judaism and most Protestant Christian faiths. If you're unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith's position on organ donation, ask a member of your clergy.
Myth: An open-casket funeral isn't an option for people who have donated organs or tissues.
Fact: Organ and tissue donation doesn't interfere with having an open-casket funeral. The donor's body is clothed for burial and treated with care and respect, so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation.
Myth: I'm too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs.
Fact: There's no defined cutoff age for donating organs. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age. Don't prematurely disqualify yourself. Let the doctors decide at the time of your death whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation.
Myth: I'm not in the best of health. Nobody would want my organs or tissues.
Fact: Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. It may turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine. Don't prematurely disqualify yourself. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.
According to Canadian Blood Services, a deceased donation is the process of giving one's organs or tissue at the time of the donor's death for the purpose of transplantation to another person. A single organ donor has the potential to provide as many as eight organs for transplant.
Organs and tissue that can be donated include the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, small intestines, eyes, bone, skin, and heart valves.
Organ donation is when an organ (e.g., heart, lungs, kidneys, liver) is removed from a deceased person and transplanted into another person.
Whether you’re arranging for yourself or someone else, your peace of mind is our priority.
Tissue donation is when tissues in the body (e.g., skin, corneas, bone) are removed from a deceased person and transplanted into another person.”
There are approximately 4,400 Canadians waiting for a lifesaving organ or tissue transplant. Not everyone in need of a vital organ receives a transplant.
In fact, on average, 250 Canadians die each year waiting, according to Canadian Blood Services. Public opinion data shows that 90 per cent of Canadians approve of organ and tissue donation yet, only 23 per cent say they have registered their decision to become an organ and tissue donor. With continued investment, support and collaboration across the country, a world-class organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada is possible.
In order for your wishes to be respected, it’s vital you register your decision to become organ and tissue donor. It’s also important to share your wishes with your family and loved ones.
The below is a direct copy from Closing the Gap, which is a guide to organ donation in Canada.
Prearranging provides complete peace of mind for you and the people you love.
To register as an organ and tissue donor in Ontario, you need:
It takes only two minutes to change someone’s life:
Nova Scotia has a unique regulation around organ donation that came into effect in January 2021. It is called deemed consent.
What it means is that Nova Scotians who don’t register to be a donor are eligible will be seen as having consented to donating their organs and tissues after death unless they actively opt out (see how to opt out here). Those people who are deemed to be eligible will be referred to the Organ and Tissue Donation Program to determine if they are clinically suitable candidates for donation.
People in Nova Scotia who are not eligible for deemed consent include:
A person who is not eligible for deemed consent may still be able to donate their organs if they, or someone on their behalf, consents to donation. For example, Nova Scotians 16 and over can indicate their wish to be a donor through their Health Card renewal process.
To register as an organ and tissue donor in Nova Scotia, you need:
We’re committed to honest pricing. We don’t charge extra for mileage, device removals or crematorium fees.
“Organs or tissue not suitable for transplantation can be used for organ and tissue research (if indicated by donor upon registration). This research is specific to the field of organ and tissue donation, and is not the same as whole body donation.”
If you choose organ donation and die in the hospital, your body will be removed almost immediately after you’re declared dead, given there is a window of opportunity for effective removal of organs and tissues. It’s important for family and loved ones to be aware of this.
It’s pretty remarkable what being an organ and tissue donor can mean for the receiver and this infographic illustrates the significant impact it can have.
“Organ donation is an opportunity to help people. One donor can benefit more than 75 people and save up to 8 lives.”
“Registering to be an organ [and tissue] donor is a safe and thoughtful decision that can be done despite medical conditions or age.” In the US, “the oldest cornea donor was over 100!”
“Organ donation is a simple process and could save the lives of many people. Surveys conducted by Canadian Transplant Society showed that 90% of Canadians support organ donation but only 20% plan to donate. This may be due to misinformation about the process or the uncomfortable topic of death.”
While nothing makes losing my friend (especially so young) any easier, it is something to know she gave life to those who were granted a second chance.
To access additional resources and learn more, visit us at eirene.ca or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to ask a question.