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The Impact of Intoxication on the Number of Organs Available for Transplantation after Brain Death

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A significant number of head-injured trauma patients are likely to present with a positive toxicology. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether intoxication with substances such as cocaine, amphetamine, alcohol, and opiates on admission has any influence on the number of organs that are recovered after brain death in these patients. We conducted a retrospective review of all organ donor patients admitted to a Level I trauma center over a 4-year period (2002 to 2005). Patients with positive toxicology screens on admission were compared to counterparts with negative screens with regard to the number of organs harvested. There were 90 organ donor patients during the 4-year period. There were 63 (70%) patients to negative toxicology screens. The remaining 27 (30%) were found to be intoxicated with a variety of substances, including alcohol (18%), cocaine (4%), amphetamines (9%), benzodiazepines (4%), opiates (4%), and polysubstances (10%). A comparison of total organs and individual organs donated by both intoxicated and nonintoxicated patients showed no overall statistical difference in the number or type of organs donated between the two groups. Thus, the prospect of organ procurement should not be overlooked in intoxicated patients.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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