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Advancing the Scientific Basis for Determining Death in Controlled Organ Donation After Circulatory Determination of Death.

Transplantation 2024 April 20
In controlled organ donation after circulatory determination of death (cDCDD), accurate and timely death determination is critical, yet knowledge gaps persist. Further research to improve the science of defining and determining death by circulatory criteria is therefore warranted. In a workshop sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, experts identified research opportunities pertaining to scientific, conceptual, and ethical understandings of DCDD and associated technologies. This article identifies a research strategy to inform the biomedical definition of death, the criteria for its determination, and circulatory death determination in cDCDD. Highlighting knowledge gaps, we propose that further research is needed to inform the observation period following cessation of circulation in pediatric and neonatal populations, the temporal relationship between the cessation of brain and circulatory function after the withdrawal of life-sustaining measures in all patient populations, and the minimal pulse pressures that sustain brain blood flow, perfusion, activity, and function. Additionally, accurate predictive tools to estimate time to asystole following the withdrawal of treatment and alternative monitoring modalities to establish the cessation of circulatory, brainstem, and brain function are needed. The physiologic and conceptual implications of postmortem interventions that resume circulation in cDCDD donors likewise demand attention to inform organ recovery practices. Finally, because jurisdictionally variable definitions of death and the criteria for its determination may impede collaborative research efforts, further work is required to achieve consensus on the physiologic and conceptual rationale for defining and determining death after circulatory arrest.

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