To date, one of the most difficult aspects of the organ donation procedure
is determining whether a person who is in a potentially irreversible coma
is an ideal candidate to be an organ donor. In a recent study presented
by the American Academy of Neurology, four tests can help make this
determination more accurate and easier. If these tests become standard
procedure, the number of organs available for donation would be dramatically increased.
From the time the heart stops beating, doctors have 60 minutes to remove
the donated organs from the patient’s body. For this reason, patients with
irreversible brain damage are only suitable organ donors if they are likely to pass away within 60 minutes of life support being removed. Until now, the only methods that can be used to test for donor candidacy would have required the patient to be taken off of the ventilator.
Now, doctors have determined that the following four factors are indicators of candidacy:
- No corneal reflex.
Doctors touch the cornea of the eye with a dampened tissue or cloth. If no reflexive muscle reaction occurs, there is a proven lack of corneal reflex.
- No cough reflex.
Noxious odors are introduced to the patient. A lack of coughing reflex is indicative of an advanced stage of brain death.
- No motor response.
The pain receptors of the hands and feet are tested to see if the autonomic nervous system responds.
- High scores on the oxygenation index.
A high score on the oxygenation scale indicates that the patient’s body isn’t metabolizing oxygen effectively.
The correlation is one to one: more available organs translates directly into more lives saved. As doctors learn more about the donation process, efforts will become more efficient.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching areas of online education. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
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Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help 75 to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You