News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

December 23, 2015


Organ Donation after Cardiac Death Now Possible: Minister Blady

The Manitoba government is implementing a new policy to allow organ donation after cardio-circulatory death, Health Minister Sharon Blady announced today.

"When there is no hope of recovery for loved ones, more Manitoba families will be able to consider choosing organ donation and honour the wishes of a family member,” said Minister Blady.  “Making the change to allow organ donation after cardio-circulatory death is expected to increase donation rates by 20 to 25 per cent, help more families choose to donate the organs of a loved one and, in turn, help more patients needing a life-saving organ transplant.”

Until very recently in Canada, organs for transplant were recovered only from patients who were declared brain dead, which accounted for only 1.5 per cent of all hospital deaths.  Organ donation after cardiac death makes it possible for organs to be donated after the heart stops beating.  The most common organs donated after cardiac death are kidneys.

“Members of our team meet families on what is likely the worst day of their lives,” said Dr. Adrian Robertson, medical director, Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life.  “Families will often tell us that knowing organ donation is a possibility offers them the only window of hope during a very dark time and to be able to offer that hope to more families is outstanding.”

Policies and procedures will guide the new process, the minister said.  After the critical care team has determined a patient will not recover and the family has made the decision to end life support, the potential for organ donation will be brought forward as an option for families to consider.

To ensure families are being offered the opportunity to decide if organ donation is the right choice for them, the team has been working with health-care staff at Winnipeg hospitals to make sure referrals are being received, Minister Blady said.  Since the outreach initiative started earlier this year, there has been a 400 per cent increase in the number of referrals, she added.

According to a 2014 report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, long-term outcomes for transplant patients are comparable for kidneys retrieved from both cardio-circulatory and brain death donors.  Kidneys are the highest-demand organ in Canada and in Manitoba.

The minister encouraged Manitobans to register their intent to donate their organs by using Manitoba’s online organ and tissue donor registry at

“By registering, Manitobans can make their wishes about organ donation known to health-care providers,” said Minister Blady.  “The online registry also makes it easy for people who sign up to start the conversation with their family and friends about their decision to be an organ and tissue donor.”

The registry enables Manitobans with a personal health identification number to register their intent to donate organs and tissues, and to share their decision with family and friends on social media.

Other provinces where organ donation after cardio-circulatory deathtakes place include Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

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