How does your agency deal with potential Organ Donors?

Do you "work harder" on keeping them "alive" or "viable"?

Does it make any difference?

Do you ever find out onscene that the patient is signed up to be an organ donor?

Are they treated with a higher priority or level of care?

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If organs are only supposed to be taken from "dead" donors, when is a patient "dead? What is the line between life and death? The dividing line between life and death will most likely never be fully agreed upon. The line must be drawn on a percise and fine space where the donor is "dead" and the organs are still viable.

1968~Harvard founded a committee to define the term "brain-dead" so that vital organs could be taken from a person who was not "Really Dead".

Transplants may be done with:

A patient that has been declared "brain dead"
A patient that was declared to have suffered a "cardiac death"
The moral status of both of these is questionable at best.
Now you're just sounding like some conspiracy theory person.
Not many are completely informed about the actual procedure that is performed

Does it really matter? If you are giving up your organs that means there is no chance for you to survive, none, zero, zilch, nada. It isn't like doctors are prematurely calling a time of death just because one may be an organ donor, you do everything you possibly can to save the person's life, but the reality is you can't save everyone, but the organs CAN definately save those who are still living.

I know being a kid you probably don't really grasp the reality of everything here, but what you are grasping at is moot points, brain dead IS dead. When one is dead, they have no clue as to what is happening to their body, in the end, it is still the person's "wish" to put that sticker down, whether they truly understands what happens to their lifeless body or not.....and again, why does it matter?
I agree with Brian, you are grasping at straws and I once again turn to your young age in that you probably really don't have an understanding of the complexity of what you are talking about here. Chances are you haven't seen that person barely alive, fighting with everything they have while they await a new heart, liver, kidney, and so forth, but yet you seem to be more inclined with the person who is dead.

Since 1968 there have been significant advances in medicine as well as understanding "brain dead". Bottom line is that no brain activity is dead. Once again, the reason we have a body is "To carry our brain around and amuse it" simple as that statement is, it is true. Without brain activity, we have no idea as to what is going on, the brain can not survive long without O2 and blood flow, which is why despite many so called "saves" with CPR etc, unless there is brain activity, their chance of survival is nil. We can get a pressure back, we can get pulses back, but in the end many "saves" still end up dead, that is a true reality. With the advances in medicine, it really is not difficult to determine if one is really dead or not.

I can not count the number of times I saw death first hand. I can not count the number of times that despite the best efforts, the patient still dies, I can however, see the effects of what organ donation has done to continue life. I can recall the stories of how families have found the life of their loved one continue on in the body of another. Until you really see death up close and really see it first hand like this job shrouds us with, it is difficult to convey that reality. One day, you may actually understand what I'm saying.
well heres my take on it. i work both as a fire fighter and an emt. when i arrive on scene i go to work. i dont check his wallet for a donor card or sticker. i dont ask if he is a donor. i go to work. simple as that. as far a support, i am a donor for the following reasons. even though now i am in good health, there may come a day i may need to recieve a transplant. i am more than willing to give a kidney/lung/piece of liver to help someone in need. and god forbid i should fall victim to a fatal accident, if my organs are good, why not go to someone who could use them to save their life? at least if something does happen to me i can go with the knowledge that i can potentially save a life after i am gone. i am a blood donor and i also donate marrow. its a good cause, and personally i would feel a little selfish if i let organs go to waste. just my two cents though
I didn't realize she's only 15. Maybe she'll learn about this in health class.
when i arrive on scene i go to work. i dont check his wallet for a donor card or sticker. i dont ask if he is a donor. i go to work.

Important statement there Ryan.

I agree and was going to allude to that before addressing some other concerns. That is an important aspect of this thread in general, for the most part, in EMS, we seldom if ever concern ourselves with if they are an organ donor or not. To me, the priority is to the person we encounter, not the fact they are a donor or not.

I will also say, that I don't initiate CPR or life saving measures for those who are already lost and have no chance of survival. These are your traumatic injuries where there may be a agonal pulse but there is no way the pt can survive. There is no reason to rush them to the ER, or really be concerned if they are a donor or not.....our initiatives are on the individual, not the fact they have a sticker on their license or not.
We can only hope.

We try to save everyone, Doesn't always happen but that is what we are here for. Plain and simple.
Hey Rachel:

These guys have been graciously explaining all of the parameters behind their EMS jobs and organ donation. It is also appropriate to thank them for their responses, even if you disagree with them. Additionally, a lot of what I see you arguing is your belief about the laws which govern organ and tissue donation - not about HOW the EMS staff have to manage patients. So perhaps doing some research in that direction would also assist you.

A lot of your questions you will also learn in 10th and 11th grade biology classes.

I am hearing your comments to them - however, I am feeling that you have more to learn in this area - thus you could LISTEN MORE TO THEM, argue less... YOU ASKED... NOW LISTEN to the responses...

There are laws in place about WHAT and WHEN organs can and can not be donated.

The U.S. does not permit killing anyone for organs.

Many of the organs can live outside of the body for many many hours - that is how they can fly organs in a cooler in a helicopter across the country.

You reflect an interesting viewpoint. The U.S. is UNDER-EDUCATED about organ donation... it is a problem... Might I suggest you do some research with the Organ Donation groups who actually manage organs... WE do not manage organs WE EMS PROVIDERS MANAGE [SAVE] HUMAN LIFE !!!

NO ORGANS are available from a dying human body until HUMAN LIFE is GONE ! As the guys already explained to you.

Did you have an experience in your life regarding organ donation?

What has stimulated your questions in this manner?

Here are some links to read. After you get through all of the information on these websites, you may have a much better biological and legal and practical understanding of how organ and tissue donation works here in the U.S... Good luck...
Rachel you do bring up the interesting points that those growing up must struggle with - the moral, ethical, and legal standards of our society.

Yes, in 1968 - Harvard decided they needed a standard - so it is not left up to individual doctors or EMS staff... instead the experts in the field - Harvard - set a standard.

This is how all laws and societal parameters are determined.

How do we determine appropriate medicine?
How do we determine medical diagnosis?
How do we determine care for pregnant woman and the baby they are carrying?

All of these matters have been greatly discussed among the medical experts and they have set a standard of care based upon a LOT of patients that they have seen and worked with. There is NO PERFECT ANSWER !!!

Humans do the best they can with what we know. We are NOT GOD - we are not all knowing - we can only make decisions based upon the information we have gathered.

Every year new laws are put into place. All laws fall on a fine line. Every year experts work to improve the world and do more research and put more laws in place to make human (and animal) life better.

When I was a child - there were no car seats laws - little kids jumped around LEGALLY inside all cars.

When I was a child - there were no seat belt laws. There were actually NO SEAT BELTS physically in a few of my family's cars - to wear if we wanted to.

People who dislike - perhaps like yourself on this matter - certain laws seek to change the laws and improve the parameters of the laws. Consider laws right now being changed - surrounding marijuana, homosexuality, and texting and driving and cell phone use and internet privacy...


Here is a great book to read (MY FAVORITE): STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF THE HUMAN CADAVER written by Mary Roach - not only is it very funny, it is a research book on what happens to the human body surrounding death. Get it ASAP and READ IT a couple of times... You will learn a lot.

IF I AM...

A patient that has been declared "brain dead"
A patient that was declared to have suffered a "cardiac death"

you can personally have my entire body... because I want you to live... and you are welcome to have ANY or ALL PARTS OF MY BODY WHICH WILL HELP YOU LIVE when the experts have decided I can no longer live...

I PROUDLY HAVE THE ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION STICKER ON MY DRIVER'S LICENSE and carry a card AND tell all of my friends and family I want ALL OF MY BODY donated to WHOEVER needs it !!!

When I can no longer use it - then I want others to be able to use it - to extend their life !!!


p.s. Minors CAN NOT CONSENT to donate their organs. ONLY your parents can make that decision for you.

p.p.s. Everyone is a potential organ donor - even if they do not have the paperwork in place - prior to their death - their next of kin will be asked if they would authorize donation of your organs.
all i have to say is i take pride in what i do. the day i dont give 100% to this job is the last day i do it

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