When Do They Harvest Organs?

When they’re dead obviously. I’ve asked a few people and they said “When the person is clinically dead”… Do they mean brain dead or no heartbeat?


are you asking:

“when do they decide a person is dead enough to donate?”


" when do they remove the organs from the donor?"
for the first, there needs to be a flat EEG. the person will need to have a heartbeat and be breathing, although this will be because they are attached to a ventilator.
they need to have a heartbeat and to be breathing in order to supply the organs with blood.
if the organs are deprived of oxygen they are essentially useless for transplantation.

in answer to the second, the life support system is usually turned off in the operating theatre just prior to the harvesting, although they will have been declared brain dead by EEG before that.

most donors have suffered brain damage and are in comas, which has then progressed to brain death while they are on life support machines.

sorry, i was speaking generally.
AFAIK some organs can be used if they are harvested quickly enough after the heart has stopped.

When the doctor pronounces the donor dead. Brain dead is usually the legal standard. A donor already signed permission to harvest so they do not need to wait for the automatic functions of the organs to cease.

Brain dead - Can’t you still be brain dead and alive but just in a vegetative state? Wouldn’t this be considered state murder?

Brain dead means your brain is not working and can’t recover.

The term brain dead is really one of the most useless distinctions ever made. When your brain is dead, you are dead. Machines can keep your blood circulating and your lungs respirating, but those functions will cease when the machines cease powering them just as surely as a fan will cease turning when the plug is pulled.

A persistent vegetative state occurs when the upper brain loses function but the brain stem (the part that makes the heart and lungs do their thing) still works. You are, at that point, exactly as alive as a plant … hence the name.

I apologize … somehow, I clearly forgot that this thread was in GQ.

Cecil provided some insights on this question here:

Don’t apologize Knead, it was good info and corrected what may have been a misunderstanding

Very interesting Cecil article. Icky but I have to agree with him.