Organs From US Troops Save Lives in Europe

Donations from mortally wounded troops have helped 140
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2012 6:26 AM CDT
Organs From US Troops Save Lives in Europe
A Black Hawk medevac helicopter in southern Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

Since 2006, organ donations from mortally wounded US troops have saved around 140 European lives, reports USA Today. The families of 36 American servicemembers who were declared brain dead from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan agreed to donate their hearts, kidneys, lungs, livers, and pancreases to patients in Europe. It's the result of military protocol: Wounded troops wind up at an Army medical center in Germany, and those who are brain dead are kept alive on a ventilator to give their families in the US time to fly in for a final goodbye.

The military asks about organ donation at that point. Essential organs from brain dead troops are viable for 24 to 36 hours, even with ventilator support, and there's generally not enough time to fly them back to the US. Most recipients of transplants are German, but organs also have been given to residents of Belgium, Austria, Croatia, and other nations. "If you would have asked Sean at that point, he would have said, 'Hell, yes,'" says the mom of one Marine. (More Iraq war stories.)

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