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Organ and Tissue Donation in Alberta

Consent to Donate

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

To be an organ or tissue donor in Alberta:

  • register on the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry(AOTDR), and mail or fax a copy of your completed (dated, signed, and witnessed) donation consent form (as per Human Tissue and Organ Donation Act) to Alberta Health, or
  • visit a Registry Agent office to register your consent, or
  • sign (must be witnessed) the back of your Alberta Personal Health Card, or
  • if your intention is not recorded, your healthcare provider can call 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?

The universal donor card on the back of your Personal Health Card and the signed, dated and witnessed donation consent form you submit to the Registry is 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.

Why do I have to mail or fax my donor registration?

By mailing or faxing your signed, dated, and witnessed donation consent form to Alberta Health, you have provided evidence of your consent to donate.

If I don’t mail or fax a copy of my donation consent form to Alberta Health, will my choices not be honored?

Registering online is an important way to show your intention to provide consent. This information will be available to health providers if you are being considered as a donor. They will let your family know that you have registered your intentions.

By also providing a copy of your legal consent to Alberta Health, your family will understand that you took the time and gave serious thought to your choices, and have provided written evidence of those choices. Health providers can show families a copy of the consent you signed and this may assist them during a stressful time to support your decisions.

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. You update your donation choices in the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry (AOTDR) and mail or fax a copy of your signed, dated and witnessed donation consent form to Alberta Health.  When it’s received, it will be attached to your record as evidence of your choice when the time comes. It’s important to talk with your family about the change in your donation choices.

What happens if I no longer wish to be a 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 completed a donation consent form, then you will need to complete a form to withdraw your consent (it must be signed, dated and witnessed). You will also need to give this form to anyone who has a copy of your consent, (do this right away).

You can also provide a copy of your consent withdrawal form to Alberta Health so this information will be in the AOTDR.

If you no longer want to be a donor, you can withdraw from the Registry by calling Transfusion and Transplantation Unit, Alberta Health at 780-422-9657 (Edmonton) or toll-free in Alberta at 310-0000 then 780-422-9657.

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 intent 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: January 13, 2017

Author: Organ and Tissue Donation Programs, Alberta Health Services