When must organs, eyes and tissues be recovered?

Organs, eyes and tissues must be recovered as soon as possible after death. The times organs can survive outside of the body are listed below:

  • Heart: 4-6 hours
  • Lungs: 4-6 hours
  • Liver: 8-12 hours
  • Intestines: 8-16 hours
  • Pancreas: 12-18 hours
  • Kidney: 24-36 hours

Corneas and tissues (bone, connective tissue, skin, valves, and veins) must be recovered within 24 hours of death. Cornea tissue can be stored for 14 days before it must be transplanted. Other tissue can be processed and stored for a longer period of time and used for burn cases, ligament repair, or bone replacement, etc.