Who can become a donor?
Anyone can express their desire to become a donor, however persons younger than 18 often must adhere to particular conditions, including donating only to siblings. In some countries like Croatia everyone is already a donor unless they make an official request not to be one. The moment of a donor’s death is crucial when transplantation doctors decide whether or not the donor’s organs are suitable for transplantation.
Is there any age limit for the donation of organs?
Generally speaking, there is no age limit for donating organs. However, for the donation of organs from an underage person, it is necessary to obtain the consent from the person’s parent or custodian. From a medical point of view there are also some limits or recommendations. For example, a heart transplant is the most successful when it is received from a person who is 60 years old or younger, but the medical status and health of a donor’s body is also taken into account. If a donor is in great condition and very healthy, his or her organs could be taken even if the person is older than the recommended age. Individuals in their 70’s and 80’s have successfully donated organs including livers and kidneys to save the lives of others.
Which organs can be donated?

Donating organs can save or improve many people’s lives. For example, one donor can save up to 8 lives with their organs. Impressively, one retina and tissue donor can improve the quality of life of more than 50 people. Organs that can be donated include: kidneys, lungs, heart, liver, pancreas and small intestine. Tissues that can be donated include: corneas, sclera, hearth valves and blood vessels, bone tissue including tendons and cartilage.

If a person wants to donate while they’re still alive, they have the option to donate blood. There is always a need for blood donors. Men can donate blood every 3 months while women can donate every four months. Bone marrow could also be donated, as can part of the liver, one lung lobe or one kidney. Usually, this type of donation stays within the boundaries of family but also cases of altruistic donation to unknown recipients exist.

What are the main criteria for the allocation of organs?

Patients are given transplants after taking into account a wide variety of factors, including:

  • Similarity between the tissues of both donor and recipient.
  • Level of recipient’s illness.
  • Recipient’s age.
  • Time spent on the waiting list.
  • Geographical distance.
Can someone wrongly diagnose brain death?
No. Brain death is proclaimed by a special medical committee which consists of three doctors who examine the patient’s body and their reactions at various times in order to avoid any mistake. If the doctors suspect that brain death has occurred, further tests are carried out which will definitively confirm the presence of it.
What is the difference between brain death and coma?
Brain death occurs as a result of severe brain damage, which can cause a brain hemorrhage or head contusions. These conditions stop the influx of blood into the brain, and without it the brain cannot properly function. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients into the brain and without it the brain ceases to function and brain death occurs. Unlike the heart, once the brain is dead it is not possible to reanimate it.

Conversely, when a patient is in a coma their brain partially continues to function. Therefore the recovery of the patient from a coma is possible and it depends on the condition of the brain while there is no way to reanimate the brain once the brain death occurs.

What does the process of transplantation look like from beginning to end?
  1. Recognition of a patient with possible brain death
  2. Thorough examination of the patient’s brain functions with a series of medically prescribed tests and diagnostic methods.
  3. If brain death is confirmed or expected, the patient is checked whether they’re on the donor or non-donor register. The family of the patient is contacted.
  4. If the family doesn’t object to transplantation, the document is signed in order to secure further procedures.
  5. Medical data on the patient is gathered from the family and the body of a donor is thoroughly examined in order to determine the condition of their organs and tissues.
  6. A suitable match is found in the database of recipients of the organs.
  7. Transplantation follows, which includes: extraction of the organs from the donor, conservation of the organs in an optimal condition and their transportation to the transplantation hospital. The recipient of the organs awaits there ready for the surgical procedure.

Reference: /mitovi-i-stvarnost-2/ /facts-and-myths/ (See 3) /conditionsandtreatments/brain-death