Donating blood post-mortem?

Conversation with a friend about organ donation led to discussion about “desirable” blood types for donations i.e. rare types and universal donor types. Which led us to wonder: is blood harvested from brain-dead people the way other organs are retrieved? Can it even be done in a manner that allows transfusions to new patients?

If not, what happens to the blood inside the organs being transplanted? Do they rinse out, say, a heart to wash off the AB+ blood of the donor before installing into an O- recipient?

A golden oldie thread, with Qadgop in a starring role.

On the subject of postmortem blood donation, a doctor with a certain amount of notoriety authored this research article.

The heart is a pump and once it stops, the blood stops flowing and begins to degrade. This is the reason why game and warm blooded fish like tuna must be bleed immediately. If not, the flesh will be tainted by the blood and at the least taste bad and at worst become toxic.

When I worked at the mortuary, I used to watch embalmings and they used to massage the limbs, hands and feet because otherwise the embalming fluid (which was forced into the body by a pump) wouldn’t fully reach those areas. It was fascinating to see the hands and feet turn pink as the blood was replaced by the fluid (which was light pink). They didn’t stop until only the embalming fluid was see coming out of the body.

This article is directed to Jehovah’s Witnesse’s whose beliefs prohibit blood donation or transfusion to/from others. FYI, one of my uncle’s who’s a Jehovah’s Witness had bypass surgery using his own blood which he stored in the weeks prior to his surgery.

"When a person receives an organ transplant are they also getting the donor’s blood given to them, or are the organs cleaned in some way?

All organs are flushed clean of the donor’s blood in order to protect the cells of the organ. We have had a number of patients who are Jehovah’s Witnesses receive kidney transplants. These procedures were all performed without the use of banked blood. Because it is our determination to respect the beliefs and decisions of our patients, all patients who are Jehovah’s Witnesses or who otherwise indicate their unwillingness to accept a transfusion are consulted with by the Center for Bloodless Medicine. This ensures that our entire staff has a clear understanding of our patients’ wishes and beliefs.

If I sign an organ donor card, would my blood then be withdrawn for transfusion into someone else upon my death?

No. The donor’s blood is flushed from the body as the organs are flushed. The blood is not used in any transfusions. Therefore, persons who are Jehovah’s Witnesses can safely consent to organ donation without violating their beliefs to not participate as a donor or recipient of a blood transfusion"

Interesting to see that doctor’s early involvement in end-of-life issues as well as the change in focus

I don’t remember knowing all that, back in 2005. Makes sense, though. :cool:

You may have missed this part from the OP:

Under the OP’s scenario, the heart is still working.

Yes, I was specifically wondering about patients who are kept “alive” by machines but are on their way out. It was my understanding that life support keeps the organs viable for re-use by a transplant patient. Since blood is as valuable as organs, but subject to coagulation, I was curious if it can be salvaged in the same manner.

… wandering over to the older thread now. Thanks for the link!

Blood isn’t quite as valuable as other organs because blood grows back. Unlike a kidney, say.

It is common to transfuse blood into brain dead patients while preparing for organ donation. The primary concern at that point is keeping the organs viable.

In 20 years of ICU nursing, I regularly gave blood to brain dead organ donors but I’ve never heard of taking blood donations from them. Circulation to the organs is crucial until the very last moment.

This got me thinking: if a Jehovah’s Witness patient has been declared brain dead and is being prepped to donate organs, is it acceptable to administer blood to them?

Organ donors are pumped full of all kinds of drugs which keep their own organs viable, but I for one wouldn’t want to be transfused with that blood.

I used to deal with this occasionally, via Gift of Hope, when I worked at the big hospital. These patients have BY FAR the most complicated protocols of any patients in whose care I was involved.