Héma-Québec's activities

From donor referrals to transplantation

The needs of our human tissue user partners — Québec's health network hospitals — are the driving force behind what we do, shaping the way we ourselves plan our collection and processing activities.

Here’s a breakdown of our activities:

1 — Donor referrals

Through its human tissue activities, Héma-Québec educates health network professionals about the importance of recommending potential donors. These recommendations are the key to ensuring a sufficient supply of tissues.

Section 204.1 of the AHSSS, which facilitates organ and tissue donations, stipulates that the Director of Professional Services at any general and specialized hospital must, upon learning about the death of potential donors, promptly identify and recommend these donation candidates, sending any necessary medical information on them to Héma-Québec.

The role of each institution's care providers is to identify a potential tissue donor and make a recommendation to Héma-Québec. Your support is vital to this process.

To guide you every step of the way, Héma-Québec provides the tools you need to independently identify and recommend potential human tissue donors to Héma-Québec.

Click here to download the tools we offer for identifying and recommending a potential donor.

2 — Consent

Once you recommend a potential donor, Héma-Québec does the usual checks of both the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) and Chambre des notaires du Québec (CNQ) consent registries.

After verifying both registries, Héma-Québec notifies hospital staff by telephone if the patients or their families consent to the donation or refuse to donate.

If, at this point, a refusal is recorded in the CNQ registry, the process ends there. Otherwise, if consent has been registered, the hospital representative notifies the family that a Héma-Québec coordinator will contact them. If there is no consent on record, the hospital official presents the donation option to the family, offering the support of a Héma-Québec coordinator. If the family refuses to donate, the process ends there. If the family consents to the donation, the hospital representative informs the family that a Héma-Québec coordinator will contact them.

The donor qualification process starts as soon as the family gives its consent to the human tissue donation.

3 — Qualification

Héma-Québec always complies with the highest standards to provide safe transplants and reduce the risks associated with infectious diseases. Its donor qualification process involves these steps:

  • Medical and social questionnaires to fill out with the donor's family
  • Medical record reviews
  • Hemodilution assessments
  • Physical examinations
  • Infectious disease screening tests
  • Full technical reviews by the medical director and quality assurance staff.

4 — Collection

Human tissue collection takes place in Héma-Québec's specially designed facilities or hospital operating rooms — in accordance with strict protocols that comply with the standards of Health Canada and other recognized regulatory agencies.

Héma-Québec has an operating room specially designed for human tissue collection (an ISO class 8 clean room that complies with ISO 14644-1).

5 — Processing & Storage

Bacterial contamination control

Strict measures are in place to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination:

  • Aseptic collection techniques
  • Bacteriological tests
  • Tissues prepared in "clean rooms"
  • Terminal decontamination through musculoskeletal tissue irradiation
  • Valve and skin grafts soaked in an antibiotic solution
  • Preservation methods that ensure tissues remain aseptic


Human tissue processing is performed entirely in Héma-Québec laboratories. Products are processed in clean rooms (ISO classes 5 and 7), environments where air quality is strictly monitored to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.


All products are subject to a decontamination step. Musculoskeletal products undergo terminal gamma irradiation. Valvular and cutaneous products are soaked in an antibiotic solution.

6 — Transplantation

Héma-Québec takes every necessary measure to ensure products are sent as quickly as possible, regardless of the circumstances. Depending on the preservation conditions required, these products are delivered frozen, at room temperature or in cryogenic containers. This way, grafts are shipped to health professionals who use human tissues based on their needs and requirements, under the safest possible conditions.

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