Today, it is widely recognized that organ donations can save lives. Indeed, by accepting to donate their organs after their death, donors can help to save up to 8 lives (and up to 15 lives with the donation of their tissues).
In Québec, there is no age limit to become a donor. The determining factor is the quality of the donated organs and tissues. For the record, the oldest donor was 88 years old.
The most common way to consent to an organ and tissue donation is to sign a sticker on the back of your health insurance card. However, did you know that it is also possible to consent to the donation of your organs and tissues by way of a notarized will or mandate in case of incapacity?
Thereby, when making your will or mandate, your consent to organ and tissue donation—or refusal thereof, as the case may be—must be registered by your notary at the Registre des consentements au don d’organes et de tissus (Registry of Consents to Organ and Tissue Donations) of the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
Indeed, your notary has a regulatory duty to periodically produce a report on organes and tissue donation consents and refusals with the Registre des consentements aux dons d’organes et de tissus of the Chambre des notaires du Québec. This confidential registry will enable authorized medical personnel to quickly determine if you consented to donating your organs and tissues, when the time comes. This will simplify and accelerate organ removal procedures, if applicable, and avoid placing your loved ones in a situation where they have to make such a delicate decision on your behalf.
You may also consent to the removal of your organs after your death for of scientific research purposes. In such cases, the research project must be approved and monitored by an ethics committee for research. Furthermore, no organ may be removed before the death of the donor is attested by two independent physicians who do not participate either in the removal or the transplantation (section 45 of the Civil Code of Québec).
Finally, it goes without saying that the quality and condition of your organs at the time of your death will determine the possibility of an organ donation, even if you previously consented to it in your will or mandate.
Christiane Ratelle, Notary