Becoming an organ donor in Manitoba
After all recovery efforts have been exhausted, organ donation is offered as an option after end-of-life discussions have been held with family. Patients who become organ donors have typically experienced a traumatic event that has caused blood flow to the brain to stop. Brain death occurs when a clot, swelling, or bleeding cuts off the blood supply long enough for brain tissue to die. The patient will never respond to stimulation or breathe on their own again. The process of declaring a patient brain dead is done by two physicians experienced in diagnosing brain-injured patients.
When a person becomes a candidate for organ donation, a Transplant Manitoba - Gift of Life donor coordinator will meet with family to offer the opportunity for organ donation and provide information about the donation process. Family consent is needed in order for donation to take place. If the person registered on signupforlife.ca, the province's intent to donate registry, the donor coordinator will share the registration information.
Donor family members will be asked to answer a medical and lifestyle questionnaire about their loved one to learn if they are eligible to be a donor. This will be followed by medical procedures and testing, including blood tests, urine tests, X-rays and scans to determine which organs are safely able to go forward to help someone else. The results are also used to determine a match for someone who is waiting for a transplant. Although the organs are offered to centres across Canada and occasionally the United States, sometimes a match is not found.
Why consider organ donation?
There are over 4,000 Canadians currently waiting for an organ transplant that could save or dramatically improve their quality of life. Making the decision to give consent for the donation of organs can make a life-changing difference for people who are waiting for a kidney, liver, lung, heart, pancreas or small bowel transplant. One donor can save the lives of eight people and enhance the quality of life for another 75 through the gift of tissue donation. For many families, knowing that something good came out of their loss can help with grieving.
Once the organs have been matched and all the retrieval teams are present, the donor is taken to the operating room. The same respect and care is given to the patient during the donor surgery as with any other type of surgery. The donor coordinator will be present during the surgery. If families wish, the donor coordinator can contact them to share the outcome.
How long does the procedure take?
Time will vary depending on each case, but once consent has been obtained the process typically takes between 24 and 36 hours to complete.
Can spiritual leaders be consulted? Can support be requested from the hospital’s spiritual care services?
Absolutely. Should families wish, spiritual support staff are available to speak with. Spiritual Health Practitioners can help people through the grief journey and provide support during the decision regarding organ donation - whatever that decision may be.
What impact does organ donation have on funeral plans?
Funeral arrangements are not affected by organ donation. After the surgery, the Medical Examiner will review the case before releasing the deceased to the funeral home selected by the family. The body is treated with respect and care. An open casket funeral is still an option.
All deaths in Manitoba are subject to autopsy, pending review of the chart by the Medical Examiner’s office. Should the Medical Examiner’s office wish to do an autopsy, it can be done following the donation process.
How do I become a living kidney donor?
Click here to to view our presentation for more information to help you decide if being a living kidney donor is right for you.
For more information about becoming a living kidney donor to a Manitoban in need, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-787-2323.
How do I express my wishes to be an organ donor?
Register your intent to be an organ and tissue donor on Manitoba's online registry, signupforlife.ca. It takes only a few minutes and you only need to register once. You need a PHIN to register.