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Familial consent for deceased organ donation among immigrants and long-term residents in Ontario, Canada: a population-based retrospective cohort study


Background — Many families choose not to consent to organ donation at the time of their loved one’s death. In Ontario, Canada, whether these decisions vary by ethnicity remains unclear.

Objective — To compare the proportion of families of immigrants who consented for deceased organ donation with families of long-term residents.

Design — Population-based retrospective cohort study.

Setting — Potential donors in Ontario, Canada, between November 2008 and March 2013.

Methods — We used linked administrative databases to study the proportion of families who consented for deceased organ donation.

Results — Overall, of the 2873 families of potential donors approached, 1912 (67%) provided consent for deceased organ donation. Families of immigrants were less likely to provide consent compared with families of long-term residents (46% [135 of 291] vs 69% [1777 of 2582]; adjusted rate ratio (RR): 0.72; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.63-0.81). When examined by the country of birth, families of immigrants from the following regions were less likely to consent to organ donation compared with long-term residents: South Asia (RR: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.55-0.91), East Asia and Pacific (RR: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.53-0.88) and Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa (RR: 0.58; 95% CI: 0.37-0.91).

Limitations — We could not determine why consent was not obtained. We had a small sample of immigrants. We only had access to the potential donors’ information and not the family member who was approached for consent. Many characteristics that we examined were nonmodifiable (eg, age, sex).

Conclusions — In Ontario, families of immigrants are less likely to consent to deceased organ donation. There is an opportunity to better understand the reasons for lower consent among certain immigrant groups.



Li AH, Al-Jaishi AA, Weir M, Lam NN, Maclean J, Dhanani S, Kim SJ, Knoll G, Garg AX. Can J Kidney Health Dis. 2017; 4:2054358117735564.

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