Under current California law, death can be determined by the loss of all brain function and in accordance with accepted medical standards.
While Heche is legally dead, she’s on life support and “her heart is still beating” so that the nonprofit organization OneLegacy can determine if she can be a donor, spokeswoman Holly Baird said in a statement.
The process, which involves assessing which organs are viable and finding an appropriate recipient, could take from one day to several days, Baird told The Associated Press.
In the United States, most organ transplants are done after the donor has been declared brain-dead.
The actor suffered a “severe anoxic brain injury,” caused by a lack of oxygen, when her car crashed into a Los Angeles area home Aug. 5 and fire erupted, according to a statement released Thursday that said she wasn’t expected to survive.
She’s been hospitalized at a Los Angeles burn center.
Detectives investigating the crash said narcotics were found in a blood sample taken from Heche, though toxicology tests still had to be performed to differentiate them from drugs she was given for her injuries, Los Angeles police said.
A native of Ohio, Heche first came to prominence on the NBC soap opera “Another World” from 1987 to 1991. She won a Daytime Emmy Award for the role of twins Marley and Vicky.