If a person of any age dies without having given consent to the use of their body, organs or tissue for medical purposes, their next-of-kin may still consent to a donation. However, next-of-kin are prohibited from giving such consent if they have reason to believe that the deceased person would have objected to an organ donation or the use of their body for medical research.
During their lifetime, an individual may decide that they want to donate their body or organs and tissue when they die. In order for their consent to be valid, the individual must have been 18 or older at the time of consent, mentally competent to consent, and able to make an informed decision. The consent could have been written out and signed by the deceased. It may have been communicated via email or social media as part of a public awareness campaign.
In the past, individuals and their families may have filled out an organ donor consent card that was previously provided with Saskatchewan Health Services Cards. Saskatchewan has now moved to an online Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. Any individual 16 years or older, with a valid Health Services Card number, can register their intent to be a donor. Registration may be completed online or by downloading a paper form and submitting it to eHealth Saskatchewan. A Frequently Asked Questions document is also available.
Consent may also be provided orally. Oral consent will only be valid when it is given in the presence of at least two witnesses during the individual’s final period of illness.
Individuals can specify the circumstances in which their body, organs or tissue is to be used. For example, the individual may have limited their consent to the use of their body for therapeutic purposes or medical research. Similarly, they may have specified which organs or tissue they wished to donate.
It is very important to discuss this issue with your family and close relatives. You should make sure that family, relatives and close friends know and respect your wishes in this regard. These people will be the ones left to deal with medical personnel. In Saskatchewan, organ and tissue will not be donated without your family's or next-of-kin's consent.
If you have completed the online registry process you will be asked if you want to share your decision on social media. This can be a helpful tool to start the discussion.
Saskatchewan Transplant Program coordinators are available in Regina and Saskatoon to provide more information about organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) Donation Program uses an integrative approach to organ and tissue donation and end-of-life care. The program also coordinates donations and works closely with the Saskatchewan Transplant Program.
Individuals who wish to donate their entire body for medical research and education must contact the Body Bequeathal Program, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon.
Under The Human Tissue Gift Act when a deceased person has not provided consent to the use of their body after death, their next-of-kin may consent. The following individuals, in the following order, are authorized to consent…