Transplantation is a complex medical and surgical procedure: an organ or tissue is taken from one individual (donor) and transplanted into another (recipient).
The donor is a person who died in the ICU.
If the heart stops beating, just a doctor is sufficient to diagnose the individual's death, by recording the electrocardiogram for 20 minutes.
If all functions of the brain and brain stem are irretrievably lost, the death of an individual can happen even with a beating heart.
The diagnosis of death is established by a committee of three doctors (intensivist, neurologist, coroner), specifically appointed, which performs the following checks:
- examination of the neurological status;
- recording of brain electrical activity;
- hypercapnic apnea test.
If the individual had expressed a will to donate his/her organs after his/her death, his/her body is accompanied to the operating room for organ harvesting. The removal of organs and tissues consists in a surgical operation entirely similar to those that are normally carried out in operating rooms. The brain of the donor has lost all perceptions and does not feel any pain. Multiple surgical and anesthetic teams are present to ensure the integrity of the donor's body at the end of the withdrawal: the body is respected and recomposed, and even the possible removal of corneas will not alter face's appearance.
For this act of great humanity and social solidarity, complex procedures involving a large number of people and organizations of institutional control and coordination take place, ensuring that everything is conducted with the utmost respect for the protection of the donor, the safety of the recipient, justice and law.