Family wants more time for man declared brain dead before organs donated

Doctors at Delta-Sutter Hospital in Antioch have declared Anthony Vallejo brain-dead after he lost consciousness during a severe asthma attack a week ago Sunday.

Vallejo, the father of two, was 30-years-old.

"He's such a loving person. And so contagious with his laugh. He just brings joy to everyone he touches," said his wife Talia George.

"[He] took care of me. Always a great dad," said his 11-year-old son Anthony.

Vallejo had also agreed to be an organ donor. Doctors are ready to harvest his vital parts, but family members say his heart is still beating. That’s why they want six more days to see if he somehow comes back.

"When you go to the DMV and you are 30-years-old and you put down to be a donor you expect the family will have the ultimate say," said George.

However, organ donor agencies say families do not have ultimate say. It was the donor's wish.

"It's a legal commitment for that person much like an advanced directive. It's what they wanted and it is our obligation to facilitate that," said Cathy Koubek of Donor Network West in San Ramon. 

Donor Network West would not discuss this specific case, but they did talk about the process.

They say if two doctors declare a registered donor brain dead that the person is considered dead regardless of heartbeat, and there is a limited window to remove the organs.

"The body temperature goes everywhere, blood sugars go up and down," said Koubek. 

The family says they are surprised and devastated on what little say they have in the donor process. They want other families to realize it too.

“I believe in organ donation. But I want my family to give me my fighting chance," said George.

Vallejo's family is scheduled to meet with doctors Tuesday to discuss what happens next.

They're hoping for a miracle. However, so are perhaps the estimated 10,000 people in Northern California waiting to receive transplants. 

Vallejo's family has set up a fundraiser for medical expenses.