In Alberta, if you are eighteen years or over and mentally competent, you may give written consent to have any organ or tissue removed from your body while you are alive, for transplant purposes, or after you die for therapeutic purposes, scientific research or medical education. The written consent must be signed by you. There are cases where oral consent may be made, if numerous requirements are fulfilled, such as the oral consent being made in the presence of two witnesses who received instructions from you to document the consent, and one of the witnesses was knowledgeable in the donation process and advised you of the nature and consequences of the donation.
If you die (when you are over the age of eighteen) and no consent has been given, your spouse or closest adult relative will be able to give consent for the removal and transplant on your behalf. They are not entitled to consent to such procedures if they are aware that you would have objected to it.
The Human Tissue and Organ Donation Act sets out strict rules as to making a determination of death of a proposed donor. This is to make sure that there is no wrongful conduct involved when organs are wanted for transplant purposes. The Act provides that your name must not be revealed unless you (or your family) allow your identity to be revealed.
Consent forms are available on the back of every Alberta Health Care card. In addition, consent forms are available from the HOPE Coordinator (Human Organ Procurement and Exchange Program) at every major transplant centre. (See the telephone numbers in the Legal and Community Resources section of this booklet.)