Every year, thousands of patients with a failing heart hope to receive a donor heart to give their life a second chance. The number of heart patients substantially outnumber the donor hearts available and hence it makes it all the more important to have a feasible process to procure more and more donor hearts.
Let’s shed some light on the heart donation procedure to understand how donor hearts are procured.
Procuring a donor heart is a team effort of many parties inside and outside hospitals who ensure they are able to save every possible heart and in turn give someone a new life.
The process of acquiring a donor heart goes like this:
Procuring the donor heart from a brain dead person
Organ donors are in general healthy people who unfortunately are in the state of brain death due to injury to the brain. There are many reasons for brain injury such as bleeding into the brain, strokes, accidents, and fatal injuries.
In the Emergency Room
In the Emergency Room, doctors and nurses measure the degree of the brain injury and other injuries to the patient. Only brain dead patients are eligible to donate a heart. Once in the ICU, further testing is done to evaluate whether brain death has occurred or not.
Brain Death occurs when the patient is in a state where they will certainly not wake up; they essentially lose all vital functions of the brain. Brain death is not like coma, where the brain still shows some activity.
Even though dead, the heart continues to beat and using a ventilator breathing machine the organs like heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and tissues are provided with an adequate supply of blood and are preserved before further action is taken.
Modern science allows hospitals to artificially support the blood circulation and breathing of brain dead patients and classifies death in two ways i.e cardiovascular death and brain death.
Cardiovascular death occurs when the heart stops beating and there is no breathing while brain death occurs when the brain stops working, but the heart is still beating.
Once the patient’s family take the decision of donating their relative’s organs, the organ is acquired and transplanted into the needy patient if it is working properly and there are no signs of disease or problem with the organ.
Co-ordinating a transplant
The hospital’s medical staff contacts a Donor Coordinator to facilitate and initiate the organ donation process as well as inform the family on the process. The family gives consent for the organs they wish to donate during this. The family is also taken through a series of questions to determine the patient’s history and health related event in the past.
A series of tests and exams are then performed to assess the organs being offered for transplant.
The tests help in determining:
- how stable the donor is
- if the organs are healthy and working properly
- and if there is any risk of diseases being transmitted from the donor to the person receiving
- Sometimes brain death can cause injury to other organs making them unsuitable for transplant
- A physical exam and other blood and medical tests are also performed.
The donor’s heart is matched to recipients based on factors like blood type, height, weight etc. A test called HLA typing is done to find which recipient will have the least chances of organ rejection.
The donor’s body is taken to the Operation theatre where the recipient and the transplant team is ready. The donor’s organs are removed and transplanted without delay.
The donor family can choose to maintain their privacy or in some cases also meet the recipient to congratulate them. However some
Heart transplant hospitals in Chennai make privacy mandatory and act as a medium of communication between the two families.
For More Details:
For Enquiries / Appointments: 044 4289 2222
For Emergency: 044 4933 4933
Fortis Malar Hospital, No. 52, 1st Main Road,
Gandhi Nagar, Adyar, Chennai – 600 020.