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Organ and Tissue Criteria for Donation

  • All deaths and imminent deaths must be referred to the New York Organ Donor Network (NYODN) regardless of age or diagnosis.
  • All cardiac deaths must be referred and evaluated for tissue donation.
  • Tissue includes bone, eyes, fascia, heart valves and vessels.
  • An organ donor can also be a tissue donor, after the solid organ donation occurs.

Brain Death

Brain death is the total, irreversible cessation of all brain functions, including the brain stem. In brain death there is no longer any possibility of thinking, feeling or governing even the most primitive activities of life, such as breathing.

Organ Donation After Cardiac Death

Generally, organ donation takes place after a patient has been declared brain dead. However, during 2002, the NYODN offered two families the option of donation after cardiac death. This allows the recovery of livers, kidneys and tissues from patients who have suffered a devastating non-recoverable illness or injury and are ventilator-dependent, but do not technically meet the criteria to be declared brain dead. This type of donation is offered to families only after the decision has been made to terminate the patient from life support. The increase in donation after cardiac death mirrors the findings of Swiss researchers last summer that suggested patients who received kidneys from donors "without a heartbeat" did just as well as those who received an organ from a donor who was brain dead.

If you have any questions or comments about organ and tissue donation, please send us an e-mail at transplant@nshs.edu.

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