Once brain death has been confirmed by medical personnel not associated with the organ recovery, the donation process is set into motion. Tissues can be recovered up to 24 hours after death by trained technicians in the tissue recovery suite at ARORA or a hospital operating room. Prosthetic devices are put in place of recovered bones to maintain the form of the body. The body is carefully reconstructed and the funeral home chosen by the donor family transports the donor’s body to prepare for funeral service, burial or cremation. The recovered tissues are stored in freezers until all quality assurance tests come back verifying that no diseases are present. Once this assurance is received, the tissue is then processed into grafts for distribution to clinicians for life-saving and life-enhancing transplants.
Organ donation is a more difficult process because organs must be matched with individuals waiting on the national waiting list. Once the organs have been matched with a recipient, the organs are surgically removed in a hospital operating room. Surgeons and their assistants recover each organ in a specific order. The surgeons return to the transplant center and transplant the organ into the awaiting recipient. Due to specific time limits, some organs, such as the kidneys, can be properly packaged and sent on a commercial airline to their destination, while other organs must be transported more urgently. For example, the heart can only be outside the body for 4 hours before being transplanted, but kidneys can be outside the body for up to 48 hours before being transplanted. Every available test is performed to ensure the safety of the organs and tissues.