While less than 2% of the nation's population ever meet brain death criteria, many people want the option to donate. Donation after cardiac death (DCD) provides individuals and their families another opportunity to donate organs. This option increases the number of organs available for the thousands of Ohioans who are currently awaiting life-saving transplants.
There are times when some ventilator-dependent patients who have irreversible, non-survivable brain injuries never progress to brain death. Other times, a patient's family decides to take the patient off the ventilator before brain death occurs. In these cases, organ donation may still be an option through donation after cardiac death (DCD).
Once a family has been informed about the patient's condition and they've made the decision to terminate mechanical support, a member of the Lifebanc and hospital staff discuss with the family the option of organ/tissue donation. As with all potential organ donors, patient care remains the responsibility of the hospital team. The physician who declares death is not a member of the transplant/recovery team. Additionally, Lifebanc employees, associated recovery teams and recovery surgeons will not give orders or write orders in the patient's chart prior to the pronouncement of death.
Once the patient is removed from the ventilator, there has been no heartbeat or respiration for at least five minutes, and the attending physician declares death, the transplant surgeons complete the surgical recovery of the organs.