I got an email asking about this, so here is my take:

Whenever a person is about to die, let’s say that they are brain dead but on life support, the hospital will evaluate the patient’s record to see if they are an organ donor. Whether they are or not, the organ donation people will be contacted. That organization will then determine if the person is a candidate for donating organs (not everyone is medically capable of donating their organs.)

If the person has previously agreed to be an organ donor, the person will immediately be screened to see if they are a match for anyone on the recipient list. The transplant team in the recipient’s hospital will be contacted, and they hop on a plane to harvest the organ.

If the person hasn’t indicated either way, the organization will contact the next of kin and attempt to gain consent for organ donation.

No one is taking anyone’s organs without consent. All the organization is doing is acting as a coordinator for the process. If you don’t want to be an organ donor, make sure that you indicate your wishes in your will or living will and make sure that your next of kin is aware of your desires. It’s up to you.

With that being said: No, the hospital doesn’t change your care if you are or are not an organ donor, other than keeping a person that is brain dead on life support a bit longer before “pulling the plug” so as to preserve some of the more sensitive organs like heart or liver. No, it isn’t like signing a DNR.

They aren’t less likely to try and save you for increased profits or anything like that. Chances are, the recipient of your donated organ is hundreds of miles away in another state. As an ED nurse, I work a lot of codes. I do not know, nor do I care, what your organ donation status is before I call your code.

The only thing this is for is to save lives by giving people with defective organs a shot.

A great example of this: A guy comes into the ED by EMS and is brain dead due to some sort of accident. He isn’t savable, his brain is gone, but he is otherwise young and healthy. Why leave his organs to rot when so many people need donations? So the organ donation people get a call, and those people review the record to see if he is an organ donor. If he isn’t, they will try to gain consent of the next of kin. Either way, once they gain consent, they will send out the notifications to the appropriate recipient teams.

Nothing nefarious. It’s all consensual, and it doesn’t change the potential donor’s care one whit.

Categories: Medical News


Dan D. · September 21, 2023 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for posting this to clear up misconceptions. I had wondered myself.

transluddite · September 21, 2023 at 8:40 pm

my brother is a monitor tech in the CCU and from the things he tells me about the lengths they go to in order to keep people alive i believe everything you just said. hell half the time the people dont deserve it IMHO. guess that lack of empathy is why i work on machines and not people lol. i figure hell if im that close to the final frontier let me go and you can have the leftovers. well except the liver im pretty sure you dont want that. let the worms enjoy that one!

Big Country Expat · September 21, 2023 at 9:13 pm

All I could think of was this:
(Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” ‘Live Organ Donation’

    Dirty Dingus McGee · September 21, 2023 at 10:59 pm

    Or this


    Vlad · September 22, 2023 at 1:33 am

    BCE, the first thing that popped into my head was the old movie Coma.

    My kidneys, corneas, etc. might be of use to someone but my liver, lungs and pretty much everything else is probably worse than what you got!
    I did designate on my drivers license that I am a donor.
    Pure blood, no jab donor for whatever you want. At that point I don’t give a damn!

Aesop · September 21, 2023 at 10:19 pm

Mike Solano is an great example of a proud Common Core graduate.
And he votes!

As Divemedic described, that’s how it works.
Personal faves are the people hereabouts, coming in to the ER from a SNF (three lies for the price of one, like MRE) with no next of kin nor any living relatives, with heart failure, COPD, post-stroke, post heart attack, with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, End-Stage Renal Disease on 3x/week dialysis, cataracts, non-verbal, alert and oriented times nothing, with a foley catheter to pee and a permanent feeding tube, and with Stage IV (Stage V is Forest Lawn) metastasized cancer, who are a FULL CODE, because that’s the rule for anyone without advanced directives.
(And those are not organ donation candidates, btw.)
They still get the full-court press.

The organ donation folks do the heavy lifting after the fact, in most cases. We only contact them once you’re already dead anyways.
In the ICU, they only contact them if you’re on life support and expected to never recover, i.e. completely brain dead.

And if you’re 80 or over, no one wants your parts anyways.

Eat it on a motorcycle with no helmet at age 20, however, and the current record hereabouts is 27 other people who benefited from parts-swapping. Heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, corneas, and so on. They had four complete surgical teams platooning into the OR for that one, all day long, and a fleet of jets with transport teams standing by to deliver the various pieces to where they were needed. Which isn’t a bad legacy for total morons to leave behind.

Sign your donor card.

The Tactical Hermit · September 22, 2023 at 4:25 am

Thanks for that clarification DM.

nones · September 22, 2023 at 5:43 am

My objection to organ donation is financial. Somewhere between me donating my organs and them being installed in someone else, huge dollars are generated for the organ harvesting company. If I am GIVING my organs away, I want to see the recipient get them for FREE.

    Divemedic · September 22, 2023 at 6:17 am

    I agree. Everyone involved from the surgeons to the guy mopping the floor gets paid, except for the person supplying the parts.

    Aesop · September 22, 2023 at 9:19 am

    Coupla thoughts on that idea:

    1) You’re dead (when this notional donation takes place). You’re not doing anything. That’s what “dead” means. Your estate is another matter. And bearing in mind death tax rates, you’ve now figured out a way to pay 20-50% of any bounty paid you to go instead straight to Uncle for your parts. Giving FedGov a reason to get their camel’s nose under the tent flap in everything to do with this. Death and taxes, baby. And you’ve happily combined both.
    Thanks a pantload, just for that.

    2) Anyone can give their own organs to someone else. Oh, wait, you want other people, with some measure of surgical expertise, to take them out and put them in someone else for free? And the malpractice insurance company will just let those premiums slide too, for everyone involved top to bottom? While the hospital gives away the workspace?
    Like happens…oh, wait, nowhere, ever, in history?
    Wish in one hand, and crap in the other, and tell us which one fills up first.

    3) People getting paid to do work is called “capitalism”. So is people getting billed for services. You could look it up.
    All you’re doing with organ donation (vs. organ sales) is keeping the price down somewhat by cutting overhead.
    Donate an engine to someone, and see if you can find a mechanic who’ll put it in for free. Let me know when the penny drops.

    4) If you think organs should be sold rather than donated, okay, fine. Push for that. See if anyone wants to add another motivation than altruism to the mix. Or if anyone is willing to pay your estate what you think is a fair price.
    Let us know how that quest goes.

    I’m especially curious when that approach unleashes the inevitable bidding war for body parts.
    And suddenly only rich people can get organ transplants, and common folks can suck it.
    Moreso, because that surgeon and OR are now occupied, so now someone’s granny isn’t getting their surgery done today, because money talks, and bullshit walks.
    What could possibly go wrong with that plan?
    Oh, you didn’t think of any of that? Doubt it would happen??

    And then, government steps in with a fixed price list, because nothing “fixes” anything in medicine like government getting involved, amirite?

    No one will ever think of making under-the-table payments to circumvent that, just like no one ever speeds, or cheats on their taxes, because that’s illegal.

    Suddenly, all transplants only go to persons of color, sexual deviants, and illegal aliens; straight white people who are legal citizens are shut out entirely, by express government decree, because not enough Diversity Points to qualify.
    What…you didn’t see that coming either???

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea per se; just that the odds are stacked pretty heavily against you, for a host of obvious reasons.

    So check around, and see what you’d be up against.

    Ice cream is a neat invention too, but I’ve yet to find any shops giving that away, beyond a teaser taste. Funny, i’n’it?

      Divemedic · September 22, 2023 at 1:26 pm

      I took that more as a “I should be allowed to sell my organs for whatever the traffic will bear.” They are mine. Why must I give them away?

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