There are two types of organ donation in B.C. —deceased donation and living donation.
In order to be a deceased organ donor in BC, a person needs to be in an intensive care unit (ICU) and on a ventilator (breathing machine). Donation is only considered after all life-saving methods to save a patient’s life have been tried.
There are three types of donation after death:
Neurological determination of death (also referred to as ''brain death") means the brain has permanently lost all function and a diagnosis of death using neurological criteria has been determined.
For more information on NDD, please see ‘Organ Donation after Brain Death’ (PDF).
Donation after Circulatory Death (DCD) is an option for organ donation for patients with severe brain injuries once a decision has been made to remove all life-sustaining treatments. When a person's heart permanently stops beating, they have experienced Circulatory Death.
For more information on DCD, please see 'Organ Donation after Circulatory Death' (PDF).
Donation after MAiD can be an option for some patients. This type of donation is in the same category as Donation after Circulatory Death (DCD) and requires the MAiD provision to happen in the hospital.
For more information on organ donation after MAiD, please see 'Medical Assistance in Dying Followed by Organ Donation' (PDF).
First and foremost the duty of health care providers is to save lives. Donation is only considered after all life-saving efforts have been exhausted and it is certain a patient will not survive. Your donor registration record is confidential, and only accessible by the donation team at BC Transplant. In addition, BC's Human Tissue Gift Act states that the death of a potential organ donor must be declared by two doctors, independent of transplant.
If nothing more can be done for the patient, the ICU physician will contact BC Transplant. Our team will look up if the patient has registered in the Organ Donor Registry. If they have, we will print out their form to show to the family during the organ donation conversation. If the patient has not registered a decision, their loved ones make the decision on their behalf.
Organs from deceased donors are then allocated without prejudice following a comprehensive review and assessment process.
To become a deceased organ donor in BC a person must be on life support in a critical care unit, with no hope of recovery. Only 1% of deaths in BC occur in a way that would enable someone to become an organ donor. BC Transplant will only retrieve organs from a donor if there is a suitable match recipient.
There is no age limit to who can be an organ donor, in fact, the oldest organ donation in Canada was 92 years old.
At all times throughout the donation process, a donor is treated with utmost respect. After the surgical recovery of the organs, the donor's body is released back to to the family.
Please see our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ PDF document for some commonly asked questions.