In Québec, anyone who is 14 years of age or over, irrespective of their health, sexual orientation or place of residence, may donate their organs and tissues upon their death. People under 14 years of age may also do so, but the parents’ or guardian’s consent is required.
Everyone is a potential organ donor, regardless of age. The oldest donor was 92 years old while the youngest was 48 hours old.
The age for tissue donation varies depending on the type of tissue:
- Heart valves: from birth to 60 years of age
- Skin, bone and tendons: from 15 to 70 years of age
- Eyes: from 2 to 85 years of age
Organ donation is possible only under two circumstances, namely, after neurological death or after cardiocirculatory death. These circumstances may occur in the event of:
- Head injury
- Brain anoxia (cardiocirculatory arrest, drowning and some primary brain tumours)
- Medical aid in dying
The causes of death have little or no impact on tissue donation.
After the person dies, health professionals will assess whether or not the eligibility criteria for organ or tissue donation are met. This is determined based on:
- Certain degenerative diseases
- Overall physical condition
- Medical history
- Social history
- Overall condition at the time of death
A blood sample will be taken from the donor to determine, for example, their blood group, Rhesus factor (Rh), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status or hepatitis status.
All the results of the tests and all the information collected during the assessment of the eligibility criteria are confidential. They will be disclosed only to the health professionals concerned in order to assess the suitability of the potential donor.
Donating your body to science
An organ donor cannot donate their body to science. A person who decides to donate their organs will not be able to donate their body to science, since the criteria for accepting the body stipulate that the body must contain all its vital organs to be eligible.
If the organs and tissues retrieved from a donor are not suitable for transplantation and if consent was given to this effect, the organs and tissues can be used for research or education.
To find out more, go to the Donating your body to science page.