Anatomy of Liver
Functions of the Liver
Liver Function Tests
Liver Diseases
Prevention of Liver Diseases
Liver & Special Population
Diet and Nutrition
Vaccinations for Hepatitis A & B
Useful Links
What is Organ Donation
Who Can Donate?
How to Donate?
Is Organ Donation Legal?
What is Brain Stem Death
Donor Centers
Donor Form
Volunteer Form


Is the donor’s body given back to the relatives?

YES. The concept of organ donation is different from body donation. The body is given back to the relatives after the retrieval of the organs. Only the organs for which the donor or his close relatives has given the consent will be retrieved.

Does the donor have to die in a Hospital?

Yes, since by definition a brain dead individual is on life support in an intensive care unit. The eyes can however be removed for 6 hours even after the heart stops beating and hence eyes can be removed if the individual dies at home. The donor’s family can contact the nearest eye bank at earliest.

Will there be any conflict in saving donors life & considering him for organ donation?

NO. Organ donor will be considered only when all the efforts to save the donor’s life have been made & the donor is declared dead. The doctors who declare the patient dead is in no way involved in organ transplant. Organs are never taken at the cost of donor’s life.

Is it possible that the brain dead patient survives after declaring dead?

NO. The brain death once declared it is not possible the individual will survive. THE PATIENT IS DEAD

Will the body of the deceased be disfigured ?

No. Organs are very carefully removed and incisions are closed with the same care provided to living persons. It will not be apparent to anyone viewing the body that organs have been donated.

Will the decision to donate cost anything to donor’s family ?

NO. The cost required for maintaining the donor will be born by the recipient’s family or by the hospital from the time the consent for organ donation is given. However, all the funeral responsibilities & expenses remain with the relatives.

Will the relatives of the donor know to whom the organs are given?

NO. The name & address of the recipient is never given to the donor’s family &vice versa.

Does the rich get priority in the waiting list of the recipients?

NO. Organs are distributed depending on clinical criteria like blood group, immunological matching, body size, medical urgency, time waiting & in some cases geographic proximity is also considered. Factors such as race, religion gender, and wealth are never the criteria for organ distribution.

Does the religion approve organ donation?

YES. All the religions in India supports organ donation &consider it as an act of charity. In any religion the GIFT OF LIFE is considered as the most pious act.

From where does one get organs for transplantation?

Firstly organs can be removed from a living individual if there is a paired organ like the kidney. This is preferably done from close relative for medical and social reasons. Alternatively organs can be removed from cadaver or dead bodies. However, death in the context of organ donation refers to “brain stem death” or “brain dead” which are interchangeable terms.

What is brain stem death or brain death?

Traditionally death was declared only when the heart stopped beating. Today the patient can be declared dead by measuring brain stem functions. Brain stem is a part of the central nervous system which if irreparably damaged, the patient stops breathing, other functions can no longer continue independently and the individual is dead. The heart may continue to function on ventilator and other support for a maximum up to 36-72 hours. This is the phase of brain death. In essence we have redefined death. It is during this period that organs can be retrieved for transplantation after proper consent.

How is Brain Death determined?

The criteria for declaring brain death have evolved over the last 4 decades and are now uniformly accepted throughout the world. Brain death is declared by the brain death committee which involves a team of four doctors who are not involved in the transplant team. This declaration is legal. This team has to perform the tests twice at a minimum gap of 6 hours so as to confirm the findings. This can only be done in institutions recognized for transplantations by the government.

Is it possible that the brain dead patient survives after declaring dead?

No. The set of test done by the experts leaves no possible doubts about the diagnosis of brain death and hence there is no question of the survival of the individual.

What organs and tissues can be donated?


  • heart
  • lungs
  • liver
  • pancreas
  • kidneys


  • heart valve tissue
  • eye tissue
  • bone tissue

Can the brain be transplanted?

No. brain has not been successfully transplanted yet but brain cell transplantation has been done.

Why is the brain not transplanted?

The brain has a lot of connections including the spinal cord and thousands of nerve connections, blood vessels to the rest of the body. Hence it is extremely complicated.

Who can be an organ donor?

Any individual of any age, gender or religion can be an organ donor. The decision to retrieve the organs will be based on the health of the organs. The close relative of the brain dead can give the consent for organ donation if the deceased has not made a will. It is possible that even if you have given the consent but you may not be suitable for transplant.
The success of transplantation has given people the chance not only of survival but renewed quality of life. It is well recognized that it is only through the generosity of individuals and their families that transplantation is made possible.

What medical conditions exclude a person from donating organs?

HIV and actively spreading cancer (except localized cancer of the brain) normally exclude people from donating organs; otherwise the organs are evaluated at the time of death.

How one can be an organ donor?

Any individual who wishes to be an organ donor can sign a donor card. It is a legal document. Most important is to discuss your wishes with your family. Generally the organs are not taken if your relatives disagree even if you have signed a donor card.

Where do the donor livers come from?

Livers are donated, with the consent of the next of kin, from individuals who have brain death, usually as a result of a head injury or brain hemorrhage. When such a donor is identified, transplant centers are contacted through a computer network and arrangements are made to retrieve whatever organs may be donated. Frequently this involves a team from a transplant center flying to the donor hospital to remove the organs, and returning with them for the transplant operation.

Do the donor and the recipient have to be matched by tissue type, sex, age, etc.?

No. For liver transplants, the only requirements are that the donor and recipient need to be approximately the same size, and of compatible blood types. No other matching is necessary.

What happens if there are two suitable recipients for a donated liver?

This is unusual in practice but the decision would be to transplant the patient with the more urgent need.

What is living donation?

Living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person. The living donor can be a family member, such as a parent, child, brother or sister (living related donation).

Living donation can also come from someone who is emotionally related to the recipient, such as a good friend, spouse or an in-law (living unrelated donation).

In some cases, living donation may even be from a stranger, which is called nondirected donation.

What organs can come from living donors?

The organ most commonly given by a living donor is the kidney. People usually have two kidneys, and one is all that is needed to live a normal life. Parts of other organs including the lung, liver and pancreas are now being transplanted from living donors.

What are the advantages of living donation over nonliving donation?

Transplants performed from living donors have several advantages compared to transplants performed from nonliving donors (individuals who have been declared brain dead and their families have made the decision to donate their organs):

1. Some living donor transplants are done between family members who are genetically similar. A better genetic match lessens the risk of rejection.

2. A kidney from a living donor usually functions immediately, making it easier to monitor. Some nonliving donor kidneys do not function immediately and as a result, the patient may require dialysis until the kidney starts to function.

3. Potential donors can be tested ahead of time to find the donor who is most compatible with the recipient. The transplant can take place at a time convenient for both donor and recipient.

Are transplants from living donors always successful?

Although transplantation is highly successful, and success rates continue to improve, problems may occur. Sometimes, the kidney is lost to rejection, surgical complications or the original disease that caused the recipient’s kidneys to fail. Talk to the transplant center staff about their success rates and the national success rates.

Although not everyone can be an organ donor, most people can be a tissue donor, as tissues can be retrieved up to 24 hours after the heart has stopped beating - cardiac death. You do not need to have died in a hospital to be able to donate tissues.

The success of transplantation has given people the chance not only of survival but renewed quality of life. It is well recognised that it is only through the generosity of individuals and their families that transplantation is made possible.

Is there an age limit?

Age limits are not a consideration, as the condition of your organs will be assessed at the time of your death, regardless of your age. Some tissues may be donated by people up to 90 years of age.

Some medical conditions may prevent you from donating organs or tissues, such as transmissible disease, for example, HIV or AIDS and cancer.

How are organs and tissues removed?

During organ or tissue donation, your body will be treated with respect, dignity and care. Organs which are removed for transplant occur in the operating theatre of the hospital at which the person died. It is a full surgical procedure performed by specialist transplant surgeons. The incision depends on which organs/tissues are retrieved and are always sutured closed, as in any surgical operation.

If the person is a donor of tissues only, that is, they are unable to donate organs such as heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and kidneys, then these tissues, (namely, eye tissue, bone tissue and heart valve tissue) can be removed in a mortuary under sterile conditions by specialist staff.

If the circumstances of the death of the person involve a Coroners inquiry, then a post-mortem examination will be carried out after the donation surgery. The donation of organs and tissues does not interfere with the legal requirements of a coronial investigation.

How Are Donors And Recipients Matched?

Donated organs such as the heart, lungs, liver and pancreas are matched to recipients by blood group and weight. Age and sex are not relevant.

If there are two people on the waiting list who are similarly matched, then the person who has been waiting the longest or who is the most ill at the time would receive the organ.

Kidney matching also requires blood group matching but weight is not a relevant consideration. Kidneys are always tissue typed to find the best matched recipients.