What is an anoxic brain injury? Anne Heche remains on life support as organ donation plans made

Heche remains on life support as it 'has long been her choice to donate her organs' and doctors are determining if any are viable

What is an anoxic brain injury? Anne Heche remains on life support as organ donation plans made
Heche crashed her car into a house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood, leaving her in a coma with severe burns (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
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Actress Anne Heche is not expected to survive after suffering a catastrophic brain injury following her blazing car cash in the Los Angeles area on Friday, August 5, said the rep for the actress.

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The closest ones to the actress have decided to take her off life support after she was pronounced brain dead by medical experts. The doctors are going to keep her on the ventilator until it’s determined whether any body part of the actress can be donated.

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"Unfortunately, due to her accident, Anne suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and remains in a coma, in critical condition," the rep says in a statement on behalf of Heche's family. "She is not expected to survive,” the rep tells people "It has long been her choice to donate her organs and she's being kept on life support to determine if any are viable.

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In the six days since her crash into a house in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, the actress has not regained consciousness. Police on Thursday said that preliminary blood tests identified the presence of the drug in the actress’ system. "The case is being investigated as felony DUI traffic collision," Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department, said in a statement.

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"She has a significant pulmonary injury requiring mechanical ventilation and burns that require surgical intervention," a rep for the actress told PEOPLE on August 8. "She is in a coma and has not regained consciousness since shortly after the accident."

What is an anoxic brain injury?

The rep for the 'Donnie Brasco' actress revealed Anne Heche suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and is in critical coma condition. Unlike traumatic brain injuries, anoxic brain injury is caused by a complete absence of oxygen in the human brain. This deprivation of oxygen leads to the death of brain cells.

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In medical terms, damage to the brain occurs when the oxygen is completely cut-off by the brain for about four minutes. This results in a process called apoptosis in which a large number of neural cells start dying.

Potential causes of anoxic brain injuries include cardiac or respiratory arrest, extremely low blood pressure, or shock, resulting from disturbed heart function or blood loss, choking, suffocation, severe asthma attack, exposure to high altitudes, smoke inhalation, irregular heart rhythm caused by a heart attack, inhaling carbon monoxide, electric shock, near drowning, and a drug overdose.

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While some people recover from the condition over time, some sufferedpermanent damage. The core of the management in anoxic brain injured patients from cardiac arrest is a prompt application of hypothermia in appropriate settings, treatment of seizures, hemodynamic maintenance, and supportive care.

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