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Transplant Proc. 2007 Mar;39(2):344-5.

Organ donation in suicides.

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  • 1Central de Transplantes do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.



There are few reports in the literature analyzing brain death epidemiology in suicides, or the rate of donation and family authorization in such situations.


The objectives of this study were to analyze the frequency of suicide as a cause of brain death and to compare the donation rates among this population with other causes of brain death.


We reviewed records from 2627 potential donors between 1988 and 2004.


Within that period, 101 (3.8%) cases of brain death were recorded as suicides. The mean age was significantly lower (P < .05) in cases of suicide than for other causes (26.2 + 11.1 vs 34.4 + 16.5 years); there was a male prevalence (76.2% vs 60.8%). As to suicides, the donation rate was significantly higher than in other situations (62.3% vs 43.8%). This was due to a lower rate of negative family responses (17.8% vs 32.1%).


Suicide is a frequent cause of brain death (3.8%), mainly among young men. The donation rate in this group is higher than that due to other causes of death because of a lower negative response rate by the family. The explanation remains to be clarified for such a low refusal rate for organ donation by the relatives of potential donors due to suicide.

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