Organ donation

When a person has a chronic or fatal disease, an organ donation can prevent a premature death or help prolong life. An organ donor gives the most valuable gift there is – life to another person. One organ donor can save the life of up to seven people and relieve two patients from heavy artificial kidney treatments.

At Tays, we perform kidney, liver, heart, lung, heart-and-lung, pancreas and small bowel harvesting surgeries, and we are in charge of arrangements related to organ donation. In Finland, organ transfer surgeries have been allocated to the Helsinki University Hospital.

Who can donate organs?

Only a braindead person can be an organ donor. According to Finnish law, a person is dead when his brain activity has ceased. The cause of a brain death is usually an intracranial bleed or brain injury. Two independent physicians confirm the brain death. A neurosurgeon or neurologist confirms that neurological activity has ceased, and an intensive care unit physician confirms that the breathing activity has ceased.

The cause of the ceasing of brain activity needs to be known, and the brains need to be scanned with a MRI or CT before a person can be declared braindead.

A person who has had hepatitis B or C, HIV or cancer during his or her lifetime cannot donate organs.

Who decides on organ donation?

Organ donation activities are regulated by the Act on the Medical Use of Human Organs, Tissues and Cells. If the deceased person has presumably not objected to the procedure during his or her lifetime, his or her organs and tissues may be harvested for the treatment of another person.

If a deceased person of legal age has not been able to form an opinion during his life regarding the donation of organs, tissues or cells due to a disease, mental disorder or some other reason, the procedure may be performed if his or her family member or some other close person does not object to it. A family member also decides on the organ donation of an underage deceased person.

The physician must determine whether the will of the deceased person is known before organ harvesting can be performed.

How is the organ donor treated?

Because a braindead person does not breathe independently, he or she is treated in the intensive care unit. The harvesting of organs is performed in the operating room of Tays. The organ donor is treated respectfully and with dignity just as other deceased persons, and family members have an opportunity to say goodbye.

After the organs have been harvested, the deceased person is transferred to the autopsy department to a morgue where he or she will be released to family members for burial.

Organ donation coordinator Eija Peltonen is available to respond to questions, telephone 03 311 69453.

Tissue transfers and the tissue bank

Tays also performs tissue harvesting. Tissue harvesting can be performed on either braindead or deceased donors. Tissues which can be used as tissue transplants include the cornea, bones, tendons, skin, muscle sheaths, the amnion, cartilage, heart valves and the pericardium.

At Tays, we perform tissue transplants, e.g. corneal transplants, utilising the tissue bank. More information on the tissue bank: Regea Cell and Tissue Center

Persons in charge

Specialist Marika Ala-Peijari
Organ donation coordinator Eija Peltonen