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Organ and Tissue Donation in Alberta

Frequently Asked Questions

​​​Alberta Overview

The Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry (AOTDR) is a registry for Albertans who want to donate their organs and/or tissues for transplantation, when they die.

See the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry page on MyHealth.Alberta.ca.

What do I need to do to become an organ or tissue donor?

If you want to be an organ and/or tissue donor:

  • talk about your wishes to be an organ and/or tissue donor with your family and tell them exactly what you want to happen when you die.
  • if you are over 18, you can access the online Alberta Organ and Tiss​ue Donation Registry to record your choices about organ and/or tissue donation, or visit a Registry Agent office to register, or sign the back of your healthcare card (for cards issued before 2018).
  • call a Living Donor Program in your area if you want to be a living donor (kidney or part of the lung or liver, or tissue such as bone marrow or stem cells)

How do I register my consent to donate my organs or tissues?

Albertans can go to MyHealth.Alberta.ca and find information about organ, tissue and body donation and a link to the registry. You must have your Alberta Personal Health Care Number to enter the registry. The online registry will guide you through the process. You must click the orange Proceed button on the right hand side to start. When you have filled out the registration form indicating your decision to donate, you may print a copy for your records.

Is registering online providing my legal consent to be a donor?

As of 2020, you are providing your legal consent to donate once you have registered your donation wishes online on the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry.

In 2020 the registry was revised to enable consent to be provided entirely through an online process. Prior to this, consent was registered by making donation choices online and then doing a second step to print, sign, and mail or fax the form to Alberta Health. The requirements for consent are found in the Human Tissue and Organ Donation Act

Is the information in the registry confidential?

The information entered into the registry is confidential. However, you are encouraged to speak with your family about your wishes so they know what you would want done with your organs and tissues. Alberta Health will keep this information confidential unless disclosure is permitted or required by law.

See Organ and Tissue Donation - Becoming a Donor page.

Can I choose which organs or tissues I would like to donate?

Yes. You can choose specifically which organs and tissues you would like to donate or, you can donate your body to science. The choice is yours to make, and the options are outlined in the registry.

As an organ or tissue donor, you can choose to have any organs or tissues that are not transplanted donated to scientific research or medical education. In this case, only the specific organs and tissues that are needed for these purposes will be used for scientific research or medical education.​

Does signing the back of my Personal Health Card or registering online mean I will be a live donor as well as after death?

No. If you want to be a living donor, you need to call the Living Donor Program in either Edmonton or Calgary.

See Organ and Tissue Donation - Becoming a Donor page.

Can I be refused if I want to donate?

If you have certain diseases and/or high risk social behaviours, you might not be able to donate your organs and tissues. The determination of whether you will be a suitable donor will be made by medical professionals after your death and should not discourage you from signing up to be a donor.

See Organ and Tissue Donation - Becoming a Donor page.

What happens to the information in the registry?

At the time of your death, the donor coordinator would access the registry via a confidential, secure web access system connected to your Personal Health Number. If you have provided consent to donation, this information will be communicated to your family.

See Organ and Tissue Donation – Donation Process page.

What happens if I change my mind 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 the change in 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.

If I register at a Registry Agent office, do I need to have the donation symbol (a heart with the word donor) put on my driver’s license or ID card?

If you’re registering to be a donor when you get your first Alberta driver’s license or ID card, (or are renewing them), the Human Tissue and Organ Donation Act says a registry agent must put the donor symbol on your card. There is no extra cost for this.

If you go to a registry office just to register to be a donor, you will be asked the option if you want the donor symbol printed on your driver’s license or ID card. If you make this choice, it costs $22.45 (for the printing, processing and mailing) for a new driver’s license or ID card.

How do I have the donor symbol removed from my driver’s license if I change my mind and no longer want to be a donor?

If you change your mind and want the symbol removed, go to a registry office in your area to get a new card without the symbol. It costs $22.45 (for printing and processing) for the new driver’s license or ID card.

If I have given consent, will my family still be asked about donation?

Yes. 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 healthcare card or registered online.

The decision to donate is a personal one. Registering in the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry is an important way to communicate your wishes 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.

See Organ and Tissue Donation – Consent to Donate page.

Does my body get returned to my family for burial after it is used for medical/research purposes?

If you wish to donate your body to be used for medical education or scientific research, you must register with the anatomical gift program closest to you, listed below. After your body has been used for medical or research, the remains are usually cremated and returned to the university. Final burial preparations are arranged with the next-of-kin.

The University of Alberta Anatomical Gift Program and the University of Calgary Body Donation Program have different processes for returning remains, so please contact the program at:

Can I donate my organs and/or tissue for transplantation before donating my body for medical education and scientific research?

No. The University of Alberta Anatomical Gift Program and the University of Calgary Body Donation Program need the body completely intact (so it can be properly preserved). This means that organ and tissue donation is not possible, except for the eyes.

Why did the Registry agent ask me if I wanted to register to be a donor when I renewed my driver’s license or ID card?

Registry agents are legally required to ask about donation when clients are renewing or receiving a driver’s license or ID card, as directed by the Human Tissue and Organ Donation Act

This law makes it easy for Albertans to record their wishes about being an organ and/or tissue donor, as many donors are needed.

Don’t feel pressured to register. If you want to take time to think about it or are not interested, your wishes will be respected.

If you choose to register when you apply for or renew your driver’s licence or ID card, the Registry agent must (by the Human Tissue and Organ Donation Act) put a heart symbol on your card to show that you have registered to be a donor.

Where can I go if I have more questions about organ and tissue donation?

If you have questions about organ, tissue, or body donation please go to Organ, Tissue, and Eye Donation on MyHealth.Alberta.ca. You can also call Health Link at 811 or speak with your doctor. If you have questions about the registry, you can call 1-844-815-3315.



Current as of: March 31, 2020

Author: Organ and Tissue Donation Programs, Alberta Health Services