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First prospective study on brain stem death and attitudes toward organ donation in India.

  • Seth, Avnish Kumar
  • Nambiar, Pradhi
  • Joshi, Ajay
  • Ramprasad, Ramanathan
  • Choubey, Rajendra
  • Puri, Pankaj
  • Murthy, Mandapaka
  • Naidu, Sudeep
  • Saha, Anupam
  • Bhatoe, Harjinder
Published Article
Liver transplantation : official publication of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the International Liver Transplantation Society
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2009
DOI: 10.1002/lt.21912
PMID: 19877266


Organ donation following brain stem death is infrequent in India. There is no prospective study on prevalence of brain stem death and causes of non-donation. Consecutive patients admitted to intensive care unit from Sep 2006 to Sep 2008 were studied prospectively. Families of those with brain stem death were approached for organ donation by transplant coordinator. Extensive awareness drive was launched. Reasons for non-donation, if any, were documented. Of 2820 patients admitted, 994 (35%) were on mechanical ventilator and 657 (23%) died. Brain stem death could be diagnosed in 55, 37 males, median age 46 years (range 7 to 87 years) i.e., 1.9% of all admissions and 8.3% of all deaths. Among neurology and neurosurgery patients brain stem death was seen in 45 of 1037 (4.3%) admissions and 45 of 161 (27.9%) deaths. Complications of brain stem death were hypotension in 49, diabetes insipidus in 17 and hypertension in 5 patients. Of 33 families counselled, 16(48%) consented to organ donation. In 14(42%), organs and tissues retrieved and transplanted included 13 livers, 23 kidneys, 25 corneas and 5 cardiac valves. Consent was more likely in females (10 of 14 as compared to 6 of 19 males, p = 0.037). Consent did not correlate with age of donor or medico-legal issues (p = 0.227 & 0.579 respectively). Trained staff with requisite systems in place produced significant organ donation rates. Religious issues and medico legal concerns were not a major hurdle towards organ donation. Female patients with brain stem were more likely to become organ donors.

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