There are more than 100,000 people in the United States currently waiting to receive an organ transplant. Unfortunately, many of these people will die without ever receiving the organs that they need.
When you die, there’s a good chance that you will have multiple organs that could be used to save the lives of multiple people. Unfortunately, because so many people can’t tell the organ donor facts from myths, many potential organ donors never give it any consideration.
When you sign up to be an organ donor, it’s not true that doctors will try less hard to save your life. It’s also not true that you’ll be declared dead sooner than you normally would be. When you’re on the operating table, the doctor is working to save your life, not somebody else’s.
By knowing the facts, you’ll be able to make more educated decisions about your body and health. So keep on reading and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know about what happens to your body if you’re an organ donor.
In order for your organs to be donated, you need to be in a hospital and on a ventilator. You also need to have some kind of neurologically devastating injury. This can occur from cardiac death or brain death.
Cardiac death is when the patient has brain damage that is so bad that they will never make a full recovery. The damage can take place in different parts of the brain.
The person might have a little brain functionality left, but the doctor determines that they won’t be able to recover. The donor will be kept alive on a ventilator and their family can choose to remove them from it. When this person’s heart stops beating, they will be considered legally dead.
Most organs are donated from cases of brain death. This is when the brain has no function. This person has lost all functions of the brain, including the brain stem.
A doctor will diagnose this person as brain dead when the patient is in a coma and they have no brain stem reflexes. They will also not pass apnea tests that are meant to reveal if all of the brain functions have been lost.
A person who is brain dead is considered to be legally dead. Even if the person is still breathing on a ventilator, they are still considered legally dead. It is the doctor, and not the transplant team, who makes the decision.
Testing the Organs
While the patient is being kept alive with life support, a team of specialists will test whether the organs are safe to be donated. If the person has cancer or some other illness, then their organs might not make the grade.
However, not all diseases will stop the possibility of organ donation. For example, someone who has HIV can donate their organs to someone else who has HIV. The same is true for people who have hepatitis.
With routine blood tests, specialists can see if the organs such as the kidneys and liver are healthy. The team will also inspect the heart for blockage or damage by sticking a small tube into a vein or artery and threading it through the blood vessels to the heart.
The team can also use a chest X-ray to check the lungs for signs of disease, infection, and size. They might do more testing by sticking a tube into the lungs so that they can see if they’ll need to use antibiotics.
Brains are never transplanted. However, all other organs can be donated if the case is brain death. The heart usually can’t be donated in the case of cardiac death.
After the organs are tested, the specialists will find recipients from a national list. The recipient’s surgeon will then travel to the donor.
The doctors will stop the ventilator and wait for the heart to stop beating. The surgeon will then drain the organs of their blood and then refill them with preservatives and then remove the organs.
The surgeon will fly the organs back to the recipient and start the transplant. The organs can only stay out of the body for a few hours, so the transportation needs to be fast.
The donor’s body will then be prepared for their memorial service. It’s important to note that organ donors can still have open-casket funerals or any other traditional service.
You should also know that you’re never too old to be an organ donor. It is up to the doctor to decide if your organs are suitable, not you. Even if you aren’t in good health, you might have tissues and organs that are unaffected.
Only a medical professional at your time of death can decide if your organs are good to be transplanted.
The Importance of Knowing About Organ Donor Facts
Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now have a better understanding of the many organ donor facts out there. You might have heard a lot of urban legends and myths about what happens to organ donors after they die. As we can see, doctors pay extra special attention to organ donors because they need to make sure that a patient’s organs make for suitable donations.
And by knowing this information, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions about how your body is taken care of.
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