Medical Management of Brain-Dead Organ Donors

Acute Crit Care. 2019 Feb;34(1):14-29. doi: 10.4266/acc.2019.00430. Epub 2019 Feb 28.


With improving healthcare services, the demand for organ transplants has been increasing daily worldwide. Deceased organ donors serve as a good alternative option to meet this demand. The first step in this process is identifying potential organ donors. Specifically, brain-dead patients require aggressive and intensive care from the declaration of brain death until organ retrieval. Currently, there are no specific protocols in place for this, and there are notable variations in the management strategies implemented across different transplant centers. Some transplant centers follow their own treatment protocols, whereas other countries, such as Bangladesh, do not have any protocols for potential organ donor care. In this review, we discuss how to identify brain-dead donors and describe the physiological changes that occur following brain death. We then summarize the management of brain-dead organ donors and, on the basis of a review of the literature, we propose recommendations for a treatment protocol to be developed in the future.

Keywords: brain death; intensive care; organ donation.

Publication types

  • Review