If my loved one is brain-dead, who decides when they die if they’re an organ donor?

Good Question. The decision to declare a patient brain dead is made by the attending physician that admitted the patient for head injury or other event. The doctor may seek the consultative advice of specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, or intensive care, etc. Once declared brain dead, an organ procurement organization is contacted to evaluate the patient for suitability as an organ and/or tissue donor.
They are dead. Legally if a patient is considered brain-dead they are dead. The time for the organ procurment surgery however is based upon resources at the hospital, transportation of the procurment surgeons and requests of the deceased patient's family.

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Why when an organ donor becomes brain dead, their heart is still viable?

Organ donor. The brain tissue can die while the heart and other organs remain viable. If for instance the brain is damaged by trauma, brain death can occur while heart and kidneys and other organs remain viable and working. Read more...