Hormonal Therapy of the Brain-Dead Organ Donor: Experimental and Clinical Studies

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Abstract

Experiments in Cape Town in the 1980s demonstrated that acute brain death is followed by massive catecholamine release resulting in systemic hypertension, acute left ventricular failure, and multiple cardiac arrhythmias along with substantial decreases in cortisol, insulin, thyroid, and antidiuretic hormone levels, a change from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism, and increases in inflammatory cytokines. Hormonal replacement results in rapid recovery of cardiac function in both experimental animals and humans and enables significantly more organs to be transplanted. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing multivariate studies on hormonal treatment of brain-dead donors revealed significant increases in organs transplanted and in one-year survival of kidneys and hearts.

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