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A prominent Melbourne doctor has written that,contrary to popular belief,most organ donations take place before the donor is actually dead....However,although Tibballs' opponents stress that his opinions are in the minority,there has been growing concern about aggressive organ harvesting policies that fail to ensure that the patient is actually dead...
"Is it not reasonable to consider that the donor may feel pain? In some cases,drugs to paralyze muscle contraction are given to prevent the donor from moving during removal of the organs.Yet,sometimes no anesthesia is administered to the donor.Movement by the donor is distressing to doctors and nurses.Perhaps this is another reason why anesthesia and drugs to paralyze the muscles are usually given."
We still do not know enough about the death process to accurately evaluate when there is no point of return.
Organs that can be procured include the heart, intestines, kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas. These are procured from a brain dead donor or a donor where the family has given consent for donation after cardiac death, known as non-heart-beating donation.
The following tissues can be procured: bones, tendons, corneas, heart valves, femoral veins, great saphenous veins, small saphenous veins, pericardium, skin grafts, and the sclera (the tough, white outer coating surrounding the eye). These are only procured after death.
A Brief History of Non-Heart-Beating Organ Donation
When organ transplantation was first attempted, organs were taken from people who had recently died. These organs usually failed, however, because they had deteriorated too much during the dying process...
...In 2001, the Lancet, a British medical journal, reported on a case in Sweden where doctors were able to successfully transplant lungs one hour after a woman died after a failed resuscitation. Unfortunately, the recipient later died from causes unrelated to the transplant, but such a case may mean that, in the future, organs may be retrieved without depending on a withdrawal-of-treatment decision coupled with a rapid declaration of death and organ removal.