The Real Truth About What Organs Can Be Donated

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Today I had a life insurance client tell me he wanted to do more than leave his family money. He wanted to have something that made him feel like he had a purpose.

This is something that can also be requested in writing. It would definitely help you to leave this request in your healthcare proxy and your letter of instruction.

He was already aware of electing to be an organ donor. He told me he was concerned that he could not be an organ donor because of his type 1 diabetes and COPD. 

I offered to do the research for him. I came up with the following information to help him decide on how to proceed.

This article will be a guide on common concerns and truths about the organ donation process to help you decide if you want to elect to help others upon your death by using your body. Then I will go over the glorious goal of matching your donation to a recipient for transplant.

Ever feel good about unconditionally helping someone with no expectation of getting anything in return? On average, a deceased person helps 75 living people by becoming an organ donor.

Let’s look at common myths about organ donation after death versus the facts about it.

After We Die, What Organs Can Be Donated?

  • heart, 
  • Liver,
  •  Kidneys,
  •  lungs, 
  • pancreas 
  • small intestines

Let’s look at common myths about organ donation after death versus the facts about it.

Myths VS Facts About Organ Donation

organ donation myth vs fact

Back To Basics - The Organ Donation Process

The process will involve pronouncing death, evaluating the donor, and matching acceptable organs to a recipient. Physicians will pronounce the donor as dead using either brain death or cardiac death.

I will go over each as well as the rest of the process.

Brain Death: Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know

aphasia treatmentBrain death is the most accurate determinant for pronouncing someone legally and clinically dead. Machines will keep the heart beating to keep blood flowing to the organs.

This is to keep organs in optimal condition for removal. It can still appear that someone is alive as air is being pumped in and out of the lungs. Brain death is irreversible. 

The challenge at this point is family members.

They will see the deceased is warm to the touch.

The chest is moving up and down. The deceased appears to be in a condition where there will be hope for improvement. 

However, the point of no return in brain death will be confirmed by the following:

  • No electrical activiy in the brain
  • No blood flow in the brain
  • No gag response
  • Pupils have no response to light
  • Eyes do not blink when a swab is passed over the eyeball.

Many times, two physicians will test for brain death hours apart to confirm. Usually someone from family will be present during the tests. Physicians are completely unaware if the deceased is an organ donor.

The transplant surgery team will arrive almost immediately to transport the donor’s body to an operating room for organ removal.

What Is Cardiac Death? And Why Should You Care?

what organs can be donated?Donation after cardiac death is usually a decision made by the surviving family to remove the donor off of life support. This is a point when it is believed the donor cannot recover.

The life support will stop so the heart can stop beating. At the point the physician can pronounce the donor dead for the removal of organs to begin promptly. 

So how are organs determined to be eligible for removal?

The donor will be evaluated based on known medical history, social history, and a physical examination. Next of kin will authorize the organ donation form. 

The donor is also evaluated on body size and blood type. Genetic tissue is also evaluated. Donation is first considered in the immediate area, then regionally, and then nationally.

This is how organs are matched to a recipient, along with medical urgency. 

What (Really) Happens During The Organ Transplant Process- From Donor To Recipient

By law, the transplant surgeon will be seeing he donor for the first time. They cannot have had contact with the donor prior to death.

After the organs are removed; tissues, corneas, bones, and skin will also be removed for donation. This is why one donor can help 75 patients. 

Organs will be removed in a way that  maintains the integrity of the body for an open casket funeral while preserving the organ for transplant. Organs will be evaluated in  a sterile environment for matching with recipients.

what organs can be donated?Recipients will be contacted upon being successfully matched in the system for pre-operating procedures to begin immediately for transplant. 

The surviving family can begin the process of transporting the remains of the donor to the funeral home to begin preparation of the open casket funeral at this point. 

Upon arrival at the hospital, recipients will be prepped for tissue testing to confirm compatibility with the matched organ. If the tests reconfirms compatibility, then the transplant will begin of the recipient. 

Within 14 days of organ removal, a letter will be sent to the surviving family of the donor from the hospital  outlining the positive impact that the donor had on helping the the health condition for the recipient.

The letter will describe how the donor helped transplant recipients and thank them for their support.

Many times, individual donors will be extremely grateful to the point that they feel they must show their appreciation by sending a thank you letter to the surviving family.  It is not uncommon for lifelong bonds to be formed between the transplant recipients and the family of the donor. 


You may end up increasing the size of your family by becoming an organ donor. Should your last gesture of love be limited to purchasing life insurance?

Over 100,000  people have been waiting for years to be matched with an organ donor. Would you donate your organs if you could? Leave a comment below and let us know!

About the author

Victor Vega has over a decade of experience in working with individuals regarding their personal finances after starting in 2007 at Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor. I started Garden Mutual in 2020 so that you could have access to a life insurance agent that puts your interests first! As an independent agent, I work with over 10 carriers. This means that my loyalty is to my customer and not any one particular insurance company . Let me provide you with objective information that you can use to pick the best life insurance policy for yourself today.  We are always looking to improve ourselves for your benefit!

If there are any problems with the information in this article would it be ridiculous to let us know in the comment section below?

Email me at info@gardenmutual.com or call me at 908-388-4916.

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