Imprecise definitions of starting points in retrospectively reviewing potential organ donors causes confusion: call for a reproducible method like 'imminent brain death'

NE Jansen, Yorick Groot, HA (Hendrik) van Leiden, BJJM Haase-Kromwijk, Erwin Kompanje, AJ Hoitsma

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Low donor supply and the high demand for transplantable organs is an international problem. The efficiency of organ procurement is often expressed by donor conversion rates (DCRs). These rates differ among countries, but a uniform starting point for defining a potential heart-beating donor is lacking. Imprecise definitions cause confusion; therefore, we call for a reproducible method like imminent brain death (IBD), which contains criteria in detail to determine potential heart-beating donors. Medical charts of 4814 patients who died on an ICU in Dutch university hospitals between January 2007 and December 2009 were reviewed for potential heart-beating donors. We compared two starting points: Severe Brain Damage (SBD) (old definition) and IBD (new definition), which differ in the number of absent brainstem reflexes. Of the potential donors defined by IBD 45.6% fulfilled the formal brain death criteria, compared with 33.6% in the larger SBD group. This results in a higher DCR in the IBD group (40% vs. 29.5%). We illustrated important differences in DCRs when using two different definitions, even within one country. To allow comparison among countries and hospitals, one universal definition of a potential heart-beating donor should be used. Therefore, we propose the use of IBD.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)830-837
Number of pages8
JournalTransplant International
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Research programs

  • EMC COEUR-09

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