Questions and Answers About Transplantation and Donation

Below are some frequently asked questions about brain death, how organ donation works, the need for donors, organ failure, and transplantation.

1. What do medical personnel do to save the life of a person with a head injury?

2. What kinds of injuries may lead to brain death?

3. How long can the brain go without oxygen before serious damage occurs?

4. What happens when your brain is injured?

5. What can be done if your brain is injured?

6. What is brain death? Doesn't the person's heart have to stop for them to be dead?

7. How can you tell if someone is brain dead?

8. What does a brain dead person look like?

9. If the person is brain dead how can the heart still be beating?

10. How is brain death different from a coma?

11. Who can donate?

12. Who can't donate? Why can't some organs be used?

13. Why is it so important to discuss my donation wishes?

14. How many people need organs?

15. How many people die waiting for transplants?

16. Will the recipient also get the thoughts and memories of the donor?

17. Can I still have an open casket if I donate? Will the donation change what the mortician does?

18. Does my religion object to donation?

19. Who pays for the costs of donation?

20. How long does the donation take?

21. What happens during the donation surgery?

22. What happens to the body after the donation surgery? Does donation affect burial, cremation, or religious services?

23. How are donated organs preserved and transported?

24. How long can donated organs last outside the body?

25. Who decides who gets the donated organs?

26. Can famous or wealthy people get organs faster?

27. Is there a "black market" in human organs in the U.S.?

28. How does the donor's family know what happened to the donated organs?

29. How many transplants can result from one donation?

30. How many people get organ transplants every year?

31. How many extra years of healthy life do transplant recipients usually receive?

32. What causes organ failure?

33. What information do transplant recipients get about donors?

34. Can members of donors' families and transplant recipients contact each other?

35. How can we thank donors' families?

36. What resources are available for donors' families?

37. How many lives are touched by one donation?