Making a case for controlled organ donation after cardiac death: the story of Italy's first experience

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Donation after circulatory death (DCD) is a valuable option for the procurement of organs for transplantation.

In Italy, organ procurement after controlled DCD is legally and ethically conceivable within the current legislative framework. However, although formal impediments do not exist, the health care team is faced with many obstacles that may hinder the implementation of such programs.

We report the case of Italy's first controlled DCD, specifically discussing the role of the patient's family in the shared decision-making process.

In our case, the death of the patient subsequent to the withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies was consistent with the patient's wishes, showing respect for his dignity and honoring his autonomy, as expressed to his family previously.

By making donation possible, the medical team was able to fulfill the family's last request on behalf of the patient.

This case should stimulate deliberation regarding the potential to shorten the 20-minute no-touch period currently in place in Italy. Such an action would not have injured this patient and would certainly have increased the quality of the procured organs.

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