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Organ and Tissue Donation in Alberta

Consent to Donate

​​How do I give consent for organ or tissue donation?

To give consent to be an organ or tissue donor in Alberta you must be 18 or older.  You can:

  • register on the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry (AOTDR), or
  • visit a Registry Agent office to register your consent, or
  • sign (must be witnessed) the back of your Alberta Personal Health Card (only applies to cards issued before 2018), or
  • if your consent is not recorded, your healthcare provider would speak with your next of kin (or immediate family) to talk about the option of organ and tissue donation.

If I have signed the back of my Alberta Personal Health Card or registered online as a donor, will it affect my medical care?

No. You will get whatever medical treatments you need and every effort will be made to save your life before donation is even considered.

If I sign the back of my Alberta Personal Health Card or register online that I want to donate, will it happen?

Personal Health Cards issued prior to 2018 include a universal donor card on the back, which is a legal consent form. Submitting a signed, dated and witnessed donation consent form to the Registry is also legal consent under Alberta legislation.

After talking about donation with your family, they will be asked to sign a consent form saying they have been informed about, and agree with, the donation process.​ It is also the next of kin or other family members who will be asked to answer medical and social history questions as part of the screening process, which is not possible if the family disagrees with proceeding. Because of this, it’s very important to talk about your wishes with your family. Tell them what you want to happen when you die. Family members will feel better about their decision if they have talked to you and know what you want.

Do I have to mail or fax my donor registration?

No. Until mid 2020, it was necessary to print, sign, and fax or mail the consent form to Alberta Health to provide evidence of consent. This additional step has now been removed. Consent is entirely done online now.

What happens if I want to change my donation choices after I register?

If you change your mind, follow the same steps you took to register online, updating your choices on the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry (AOTDR). You may do this by yourself on a computer or with a Registry Agent. It’s important to talk with your family about any changes made to your donation choices.

What happens if I no longer wish to be registered as a donor?

If you’re thinking about withdrawing because you have questions about being an organ or tissue donor, call Health Link or talk to your doctor.

If you have already registered your donation wishes and wish to withdraw, you will need to re-access the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry and remove the selections you made earlier. It is a good idea to update your family about your choice to withdraw as a donor.

If you no longer want to be a donor, you can also withdraw from the Registry by calling 1-844-815-3315.

You can not withdraw your consent at Registry Agent offices.

Will my family be pressured to make a decision to donate?

No. Organ and tissue donation is a very personal choice. Families are told about the options of what may be possible and then they make a choice about what they want to do.

A family member will be asked to sign a consent form saying they have been informed about, and agree with, the donation process,​ even if the person that died has signed the back of his or her Alberta Personal Health Card or registered online.

The decision to donate is a personal one. Registering your wishes is an important way to communicate your consent to donate your organs or tissues to the medical team. The family helps make decisions about donating and will most often agree to carry out their loved one’s wishes if they are aware of them.

Why is the family asked to make such a hard decision at such a stressful time?

The timing of organ or tissue recovery is very important. Organs and tissues become unusable within hours of death. This is why it’s important to talk about your organ and tissue donation wishes with your family in advance. Family members will feel better about their decision if they know what people want before they die.

Current as of: March 31, 2020

Author: Organ and Tissue Donation Programs, Alberta Health Services