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General News · 22nd May 2024
Margaret Verschuur
Some people who are critically ill need an organ transplant to live. But there are a lot more organs needed than are available. Many people choose to donate organs upon their death.

The best way to record your decisions to be an organ donor is by registering with the BC Transplant Organ Registry. This ensures that health care providers in every hospital in British Columbia have access to your confidential donor information. If you decide to become a donor, let your family, friends, and doctor know. Include this wish when you prepare an advance care plan.

People of any age can register to be organ donors. Although there's no minimum age, an adult might have to sign for someone under age 18.

Only 1-2% of people dying in BC can become organ donors. You must be in a critical care unit, with no hope of recovery. By becoming an organ donor, you would never be denied life-saving care when you need it. Provincial laws and emergency medical practices ensure that your life comes first. Most religions allow organ donation.

Tissues do not require the same conditions as organs to survive, so tissue donation is possible after the heart has stopped. One of the most commonly transplanted tissues is the cornea, the transparent covering over the eye. A transplanted cornea can restore sight to someone blinded by an accident, infection or disease. Donated skin tissue can be used as grafts for burn victims or for reconstruction after surgery.

Medical assistance in dying provides another possibility for people to also choose organ donation. BC Transplant would work with you, your care team, family physician, medical assistance in dying provider, and the health authority throughout the process. For organ donation to take place, the medical assistance in dying procedure must be administered in hospital.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, as of December 31, 2022, a total of 3,777 Canadians were on wait-lists to receive a transplant and a total of 701 Canadians were removed from the organ transplant wait-lists. Of these, 39% had died while waiting.

From the BC Transplant website: Live life. Pass it on. With compassion, collaboration and innovation, we will save lives and offer hope through organ donation, transplant and research.