Donation after death
A person may be able to donate organs when they have been declared brain dead in a hospital intensive care unit.
Brain death is when blood flow to the brain stops. The brain stops functioning and dies with no possibility of recovery.
A series of tests carried out by two independent and qualified senior doctors confirms that brain death has occurred.
People are sometimes confused about the difference between brain death and being in a coma. Brain death is completely different from being in a coma. A patient in a coma is unconscious because their brain is injured in some way, but their brain can continue to function and may heal. Medical tests can clearly distinguish between brain death and being in a coma.
Organ donation may also be possible after a person’s heart has stopped beating, referred to as ’cardiac death’, but this is less common.
More people have the opportunity to donate tissue than organs.
Unlike organs, tissue may be stored for a period of time and tissue donation does not require the donor’s death to have occurred under the same limited circumstances as organ donation.