Vital Organs like heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and pancreas can be donated only in case of ‘brain death’. However other tissues like corneas, heart valves, skin, bones etc can be donated only in case of natural death.
Organs must be removed as soon as possible after the determination of brain death, while circulation is being maintained artificially. Tissues may be removed within 12 to 24 hours.
Brain death results from a severe, irreversible injury to the brain. All areas of brain are damaged and no longer function due to which a person cannot sustain his/her own life, but vital body functions may be maintained by an artificial support system. This maintains circulation to vital organs long enough to facilitate organ donation. People who experience brain death also donate tissues.
Cardiac death results when the heart and breathing cease to function. All organs and tissues in the body suffer from lack of oxygen, circulation and die. People who have a cardiac death cannot be organ donors however they can donate tissues after death.
Coma is a state of deep unconsciousness that occurs because the brain is injured in some way. The brain still functions and this can be seen in the tests that are performed. The person will be able to breathe on his own without the respirator. The brain can heal in state of coma. While brain death is an irreversible condition which results from a severe brain injury or hemorrhage which causes all the brain activity to stop. This can happen after a major road accident or bleeding in the brain due to stroke.
The Government has specified that a panel of doctors will certify brain death and not a single doctor. The panel consists of:
In many western countries an adult is asked to make a choice if he/she wants to be a donor. In India, this final choice is left to the family. In case of brain death of a person carrying a donor card, the family still needs to approve the donation of organs. Family consent is essential. The Transplantation of Human Organs Act states that it is mandatory that the next of kin (parents, spouse, etc.) should agree to donate the organs of a brain dead family member.
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