Determination of Brain Death/Death by Neurologic Criteria in Countries in Asia and the Pacific

Ariane Lewis, Jordan Liebman, Azza Bakkar, Elana Kreiger-Benson, Andrew Kumpfbeck, Sam D Shemie, Gene Sung, Sylvia Torrance, David Greer
Journal of Clinical Neurology 2020, 16 (3): 480-490

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: We sought to 1) identify countries in Asia and the Pacific that have protocols for the determination of brain death/death by neurologic criteria (BD/DNC) and 2) review the similarities and differences of these protocols in different countries.

METHODS: Between January 2018 and April 2019, we attempted to communicate with contacts in the 57 countries in Asia and the Pacific to determine if they had official national BD/DNC protocols. We reviewed and compared the identified protocols.

RESULTS: We identified contacts for 40 (70%) of the 57 countries in Asia and the Pacific, and successfully communicated with 37 of them (93% of countries with contacts identified, 65% of countries in Asia and the Pacific). We found that 24 of the 37 countries had BD/DNC protocols. Two (13%) of the 16 protocols that provided a definition of death referred to brainstem death. Kazakhstan and Israel required only 1 examination to declare BD/DNC, while 10 (71%) of the other 14 protocols required 2 examinations separated by 6-48 hours. The prerequisites, clinical examination, apnea testing procedure, and indications for/selection of ancillary tests varied. Ancillary testing was required for all determinations of BD/DNC in five (21%) countries. Thirteen (54%) of the protocols included information about the time of death, while 12 (50%) of them provided instructions about discontinuation of organ support.

CONCLUSIONS: The protocols for conducting a BD/DNC determination vary markedly among countries in Asia and the Pacific. Since it is optimal to have internationally and intranationally consistent BD/DNC protocols, efforts should be made to harmonize protocols both within this region and worldwide.

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