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For Release: August 15, 2008
Contact: DMS Communications 603-650-1492

Dr. James Bernat
Dr. James Bernat

DMS Expert Urges New Guidelines for Taking Donor Organs

Hanover, N.H.—Questioning the definitions of death in transplanting infant hearts, a Dartmouth Medical School neurologist called for setting new standards for organ donations after cardiac rather than brain death in a perspective for the August 14 New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. James L. Bernat, professor of medicine, and an expert on brain death, offered the commentary as part of a series responding to a report in the Journal of three successful heart transplants from brain damaged newborns to other dying infants who then survived. He cautioned against moving too quickly to manipulate or alter the principles that determine human death for organ recipients.

Leaders of the critical care, neurology and transplantation communities need to jointly draft practice guidelines for organ donation after circulatory death that establish acceptable boundaries of practice.

—Dr. James Bernat

"Leaders of the critical care, neurology and transplantation communities need to jointly draft practice guidelines for organ donation after circulatory death that establish acceptable boundaries of practice," Bernat wrote. "These boundaries should be based on scientific data and accepted principles and should be demarcated conservatively to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the transplantation enterprise."

His article, The Boundaries of Organ Donation after Circulatory Death, is available online at The New England Journal of Medicine.

-DMS-

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