How Organ Donation Works

If the person who died was a registered organ donor, measures will be taken to maintain the organs through artificial support. As with all patients, the medical team will go through all possible lifesaving efforts before determining whether brain death has occurred. Only when physicians and neurologists have confirmed brain death will the process of organ donation begin.

If death occurs at a hospital

If death occurs at a hospital, inform the nurses and doctors that the person is a registered organ donor. The hospital staff will take the necessary steps to maintain the organs and will coordinate the donation.

If death occurs outside a hospital

If a fatal medical emergency occurs outside of a hospital and the person is a registered organ donor, call 911 and be sure to tell the operator that the person who has died is a registered organ donor. When EMS arrives, be sure to remind them that the person is a registered organ donor so that they can take the necessary steps to maintain the organs.

If death occurs outside of a hospital and the person who died is a registered organ donor, it's extremely likely that only the eyes and tissue will be viable for donation. In order for other organs to be viable for donation, the organs require a continuous supply of blood and oxygen, which most likely would not happen should the death occur somewhere other than a hospital.

For more information visit the U.S. Government Information on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation website.

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