Time is of the essence in transplant medicine

Today, we discussed the case of a renal transplant that almost failed for a 14-year old. The transplanted kidney came from a 24-year old who had fallen off a horse and was brain-dead.

The transplant failed because the intensive care doctor gave the 24-year old’s family an extra 10 mins to grieve before harvesting the organs. These 10 minutes led to additional “warm ischemia time”–time in which the kidney had no blood flow and became more damaged– which led to complications in the 14-year old’s case.

It bothers me that giving a family grieving time would have negative impact on the next patient receiving that organ. There must be a better way of doing this.


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One Response to Time is of the essence in transplant medicine

  1. Danielle says:

    Interesting and sad story, but it would bother me more to have taken away those 10 minutes from the family if they had requested it. I know that it resulted in a worse end result for the transplantee, but it was still a gift from the donor whose family deserves the time to grieve. The onus is on the doctor to limit how much time he gives the family / “warm ischemia time.” Maybe s/he should have forced the family to say goodbye & grieve prior to pulling the plug.


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