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Case Reports in Surgery
Volume 2015, Article ID 608673, 3 pages
Case Report

When Operating on Dead People Saves Lives: Benefits of Surgical Organ Donor Intensivists

1University of Kentucky Department of Surgery, Lexington, KY 40536, USA
2Division of Trauma & Acute Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536, USA
3University of Kentucky Department of Medicine, Bioethics, Lexington, KY 40536, USA

Received 17 October 2014; Accepted 20 April 2015

Academic Editor: Dimitrios Mantas

Copyright © 2015 Kristin Long et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Solid organ transplantation has emerged as a life-saving treatment for many patients suffering from end-stage organ failure. Organs have been successfully recovered after a variety of aggressive interventions. We propose that decompressive laparotomy, when clinically indicated, should be considered in the aggressive resuscitation of potential organ donors. A thorough literature review examining aggressive interventions on potential organ donors was conducted after experience with a unique case at this institution. Articles were reviewed for the types of interventions performed as well as the time frame in relation to organ donation. In our case, several ethical issues were raised when considering decompressive laparotomy in a patient pronounced dead by neurologic criteria. We propose that having a surgical intensivist involved in the management of potential donors will further increase the salvage rate, as more invasive resuscitation options are possible.