Once a person has met the initial medical criteria to become an organ and tissue donor and consent for donation has been given either through registration or by the donor’s next of kin, the donation process itself can begin.
Each donor case is unique because there are countless medical and logistical factors involved. The entire donation process can happen very quickly or may take a few days. After brain activity has stopped, machines must be used to keep the donor’s heart and lungs functioning artificially in order to keep blood and oxygen flowing to maintain basic organ function. These machines are sometimes called “life support,” but in the case of a donor whose life has ended, the lives being supported are those of the patients who will receive the precious, donated organs.
During this time, specialists from the organ and tissue recovery organizations can provide as much information about the process as the donor’s family desire. Some families want to be very informed, while others wish to stay removed from the clinical details. Because each family is different, the specialists work hard to understand and respect their preferences.
Because cornea and tissue donation don’t require a donor to be on artificial support, these gifts can be recovered even after the donor has been transferred to the Medical Examiner’s office or a funeral home.
If you would like to learn more about the entire donation process, please click here for a more in-depth explanation.