Beating heart cadaver

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A beating heart cadaver is the body of a dead person that has been connected to a medical ventilator. This will keep the organs of the dead body, including the heart, functioning and alive for a few days.[1] Such a body still functions physically, but the person it belonged to is dead by the law and medicine's definition because there is no longer any conscious brain function possible.

Care[change | edit source]

The procedure for caring for a beating heart cadaver is the same as caring for a normal patient. The body must be monitored at all times, and if necessary, "life saving" procedures must be taken. Since the brain does not work, the hormone levels and blood pressure must be controlled by doctors to keep the organs alive. Measures must be taken to prevent infection and maintain normal tissue oxygenation.[2]

Organ Recovery[change | edit source]

A beating heart cadaver is kept alive in order to keep its organs from decaying before they can be transplanted. Surgeons will remove the organs, one after the other, and give them to their patients.[1] The entire recovery process is usually completed within four hours.[2] This process was formerly known as an "Organ Harvest", but the name has since changed to the milder "Organ Recovery." [1] Many organs can be used, and many lives can be saved by one body. The bodies are generally organ donors, who have agreed beforehand to donate their organs.[3] Some donated organs are taken from non-heart-beating donors.[4] Organs from brain deaths, however, have a better success rate, and currently most organ donation is from these deaths.[5]

Social Issues[change | edit source]

A beating heart cadaver is often disturbing and confusing. Because the heart is beating and it is warm, people may have difficulty believing it is dead. Families often like to see the body once it has been removed from the machines and put to rest.[2]

References[change | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 [Roach, Mary. Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2003. Print.]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 ["Beating Heart Donors." Surgery Door. Web. 04 Mar. 2010. <http://www.surgerydoor.co.uk/advice/organ-donation/beating-heart-donor/>.]
  3. "Her Donated Organs Changed Lives of Many - SignOnSanDiego.com." San Diego News, Local, California and National News - SignOnSanDiego.com. Web. 04 Mar. 2010. <http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/feb/27/her-donated-organs-changed-lives-of-many/>.
  4. "Physicians For Life - Abstinence, Abortion, Birth Control - Brain Death or NHBD." Physicians For Life - Abstinence, Abortion, Birth Control - Home. Web. 04 Mar. 2010. <http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/166/33/>.
  5. "Organ Donation - What Does Organ Donation After Brain Death Mean." All About Surgery-Understanding Surgery from A to Z-Surgery Information-Surgery 101. Web. 03 Mar. 2010. <http://surgery.about.com/od/proceduresaz/ss/OrganDonation_3.htm>.