Organ donation is the process of giving an organ or a part of an organ for the purpose of transplantation into another person.
In order for a person to become an organ donor, blood and oxygen must flow through the organs until the time of recovery to ensure viability. This requires that a person die under circumstances that have resulted in an irreparable neurological injury, usually from massive trauma to the brain such as aneurysm, stroke or automobile accident.
Only after all efforts to save the patient’s life have been exhausted, tests are performed to confirm the absence of brain or brain stem activity, and brain death has been declared, is donation a possibility.
The state donor registry is searched to determine if the patient has personally consented to donation. If the potential donor is not found on the registry, his or her legally authorized representative (usually a spouse, relative or close friend) is offered the opportunity to authorize the donation. Once the donation decision is established, the family is asked to provide a medical and social history. Donation professionals determine which organs can be transplanted and to which patients on the national transplant waiting list the organs are to be allocated.
Organ donation can occur with:
- a deceased donor, who can give kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, intestinal organs
- a living donor, who can give a kidney, or a portion of the liver, lung, intestine, or pancreas