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Length of time from extubation to cardiorespiratory death in neonatal intensive care patients and assessment of suitability for organ donation

Journal title
Archives of disease in childhood. Fetal and neonatal edition
Publication year
Saha, S.; Kent, A. L.

OBJECTIVE: A common concern for parents when end of life decisions are made is the length of time their baby may take to die. Postcardiac death organ donation is now becoming more common, along with neonatal organ donation. The aim was to determine the length of time from extubation until cardiorespiratory death (CRD) in neonatal intensive care patients and consideration of potential organ donation. DESIGN: Retrospective review of medical records of neonates who died in a neonatal intensive care unit between 2000 and 2009. PATIENTS: Data collected included gestation at birth, age at death, birth weight, reason for cessation of intensive care, inotrope and ventilation requirements, sedation and muscle relaxation prior to death, time from extubation to documented CRD. An assessment was made for potential suitability for consideration of organ donation with a gestation at birth >/= 34 weeks and birth weight >2.0 kg. RESULTS: 117 neonates were included, median gestation 29 weeks and median birth weight 1220 grams. The median age at death was 4 days of age. The median time from discussing prognosis to death was 137 min. The median time from extubation to CRD was 30 min. Seven (6%) neonates were considered suitable for organ donation, and for these infants the median time from extubation to CRD was 120 min. Two neonates donated heart valves. CONCLUSIONS: This provides a guide for grieving parents on time frames for the interval between extubation and CRD. More accurate postextubation CRD times are required to determine likely potential for postcardiac death organ donation.

Research abstracts