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Neurology. 2005 Jun 14;64(11):1938-42.

The first organ transplant from a brain-dead donor.

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Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Habana, Cuba.


In 1968, publication of the Harvard committee's report concerning "irreversible coma" established a paradigm for defining death by neurologic criteria (brain death [BD]). Five years earlier, Dr. Guy Alexandre, a Belgian surgeon, had not only adopted closely similar diagnostic criteria for BD but also applied those criteria in performing the first organ transplant from a brain-dead donor--a procedure many of his colleagues considered ethically unacceptable. To put those events into present-day perspective, the author reviewed the proceedings of a Ciba Symposium held in London in 1966 at which Alexandre introduced his pioneering view, obtaining information and documents from Alexandre and others who attended that meeting. Comparing Alexandre's approach with the Harvard report and later advances helps in understanding how both defining death by brain criteria and transplanting organs from a brain-dead donor have become morally tolerable today.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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