Recovery of coma patient sparks confusion over when to ask about organ donation

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7411 (Published 2 November 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7411

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  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. 1Utrecht

A dramatic television documentary has sparked a national debate in Denmark, and neurosurgeons are now to review guidelines on when to broach the question of organ donation with the relatives of brain damaged patients whom they believe to be dying.

An estimated 1.7 million viewers watched the documentary Pigen der ikke ville dø (The girl who would not die) (www.dr.dk). In the programme, Benedikte Dahlerup, the senior doctor in a neurotrauma unit, told parents that medical staff believed their daughter was terminally ill, and asked for their views on organ donation.

This was, however, prior to any diagnostic tests confirming brain death, a prerequisite under Danish law for organ donation.

The parents agreed to donation, but 19 …

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