If the brain is damaged due to a severe head injury,
stroke or trauma, or if the blood supply to the brain is stopped,
it can no longer oversee the body's functions. Due to the lack of
blood supply, the brain dies and will never work again. Brain
death is death. It is not reversible. If all tests show the
brain is no longer functioning, the patient has died.
A physician who is not part of the transplant team performs
specific examinations and guidelines to determine whether brain
death has occurred. After the absence of brain activity is
determined, the diagnosis of brain death is confirmed. Once someone
has been declared brain dead, there is no chance for that
individual to recover.
Once death has occurred, breathing is not possible without a
ventilator. The ventilator keeps oxygen-rich blood flowing in the
body, so the patient's skin may be warm and have normal color, and
the chest continues to move up and down as a result of the
ventilator's artificial breaths. However, the patient no longer has
any sensations and cannot feel pain.
Because the person is on a ventilator, organ donation may be an
option. As long as the ventilator is maintained adequately, organs
may be viable for transplant. However, the ventilator can only
supply the body with oxygen for a limited amount of time.
A procurement transplant coordinator remains with the patient
throughout the procedure.