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Home > Programs > Eye and Tissue Donations

Eye and Tissue Donations

Organ and tissue donations

When a person dies at the hospital, the deceased person may be removed his/her organs, tissues, or both.

Organ donation for transplant is possible in case of neurological death only (cerebral death), which is characterized by a permanent stop of brain functioning. This is not common (less than 2% of all deaths occurring in hospital) and happens in people who had a cranial traumatism or a permanent and irreversible intra-cranial pathology (e.g. aneurysm rupture). These people cannot breathe by themselves. Therefore, if an organ donation is planned, artificial ventilation must assure blood oxygenation in order to preserve organs of the potential donor, as cells in organs degrade quickly when blood circulation is interrupted. Organs that are subjects for donation include kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and intestines.

When death is caused by a cardiac arrest (more than 98% of deaths), tissue donation only is possible. In opposition to organs, tissues do not need a continuous blood supply, and it is not necessary to maintain blood circulation and artificial ventilation after death. Then, cornea, cardiac valves, bones and skin (and other tissues) can survive and be sampled few hours after death to be transplanted days or even weeks later.

Ocular tissue donation

Eyeballs are recovered and managed by the "Banque d'yeux" (Eye Bank). It does not matter if the eye is myopic, hypermetropic, presbyopic, brown, blue, already been worn contact lenses, being young or older; it will be used in any cases.

Eyeballs are thoroughly examined when received, and are processed and classified according to quality criteria. Several of them will be used in emergency cares, in teaching classes or in research, and other ones will be preserved for patients awaiting cornea graft. The ophthalmologist will determine which patient can benefit from this kind of graft, as it is recommended in patients who are blind only because of a cornea problem. The sick cornea is replaced with the healthy donor's one, and become alive again in the patient's eye.

Few statistics of the year 2012 (Source: Quebec-Transplant) ...

  • 120 organ donors
  • 417 organs were removed and transplanted in 364 people
  • Each donor was removed 4 organs in average
  • One donor may save up to 8 lives, but will help several people in any case

For the 2012-2013 period, 735 corneas were distributed in Quebec for grafts and research purposes (Statistics from Hema-Quebec).

Answers to your questions...

Q. Who may give its organs and tissues?

A. Any person may give its organs and tissues. However, in any case, a rigorous evaluation of the general physical condition, medical and social antecedents of the donor and his/her general condition at the moment of death are performed to determine which organs and/or tissues can be removed.

Q. Will it be possible to expose the donor at the funeral house after organ/tissue donation?

A. The procedure of removing tissues and organs does not modify the donor's appearance and does not prevent exposition at the funeral house.

Q. Are there fees associated to organ/tissue donation?

A. No, there is no fee associated with this procedure.

Q. If I already wrote my will or my incapacity mandate, is it possible to file it in the Organ and tissue consent register?

A. One can ask his notary to add provisions for organ and tissue donations by writing a codicil in the case of a will, an amendment or an incapacity mandate. In such a case, the notary will set the cost of this service. One may also wait when reviewing his will or mandate.  In the meantime however, signature of the consent sticker on the health-insurance card is the best way to manifest your will of giving your organs and tissues when you will die.