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Since transplant surgery began over 50 years ago, tens of thousands of Canadians have made the choice to donate their organs and tissues upon their death. The lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and bowel can be donated. Tissues may include eye tissue, heart valves, bone, tendons, veins and ligaments. More than two dozen people can be helped by a single donor.

Organ transplant programs have an allocation (or matching) system so that the distribution of organs that become available is based on fair criteria. These may include suitable match, the amount of time already spent on the waiting list, and other factors. Each transplant center can provide the guidelines it uses.

Even though a person has signed their donor card, the family of the deceased person will be consulted in the consent process. The recipient will not know the donor’s identity since there is a law in Canada to protect the anonymity of both the donor and the recipient. However, many transplant programs will forward letters of thanks or cards from the transplant recipient to the donor’s family, and vice versa.

The Kidney Foundation is working with health care, industry and government representatives to improve organ donation rates. We encourage Canadians to make a positive decision regarding organ donation and to discuss their wishes with their family.

Register to be an organ donor