Research Article

Brain death in Britain as reflected in renal donors.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 283 doi: (Published 01 August 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;283:359
  1. B Jennett,
  2. C Hessett


    The diagnostic mix of 1228 brain-dead renal donors in Britain was similar to that of 479 cases of brain death recently reported from three neurosurgical units. About half the donors came from non-teaching hospitals without a neurosurgical unit, many of them small and distant from the centre. The different circumstances that preceded brain deaths were examined--namely, diagnosis and whether the fatal ictus of brain damage occurred when the patient was already in hospital--to explain why donors spend varying times on the ventilator. Head injuries accounted for half the donors, and intracranial haemorrhage for almost a third. While many potential donors are not made available, the size of the pool has been overestimated, particularly in regard to head injury. Reduction in organ donation since "Panorama" has been very uneven, with some places increasing their yield; this suggests reluctance of doctors to initiate donation rather than relatives withholding permission.