Brain death is the irreversible cessation of all brain activity, including the brain and brain stem. The brain dies from lack of blood/oxygenation. Most organ donation occurs after brain death declaration. A hospital physician, in accordance with accepted medical standards and following the hospital policy, must make the diagnosis of brain death.
Note: Donor Network of Arizona does not declare brain death.
The time of brain death determination is the legal time of death. The physician who declares brain death cannot be the physician who recovers the donated organs.
Circulatory death is the irreversible cessation of all circulatory and respiratory function. Patients who die through circulatory death can donate tissues, eyes and in some cases, organs.
In order for donation after circulatory death (DCD) to occur, the following circumstances must exist:
- Non-survivable ventilator dependence stemming from:
- Permanent and irreversible neurological injury (e.g. upper spinal cord injury)
- Permanent and irreversible disease (e.g. end-stage musculoskeletal or pulmonary disease)
- Planned withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment/ventilator support