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A Piece of My Mind
March 15, 2016

Meeting the Organ Donor

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Stanford University Hospital and Clinics, Palo Alto, California

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;315(11):1111-1112. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.18357

You, young man, are assigned as my next patient. The tragic circumstances of your brain death bring us together in this moment. I am in my final year of anesthesia residency training, and yet tonight will be the first time I will provide the anesthesia care for an organ procurement. I open your electronic medical record and an unexpected window pops up: “You are about the enter the medical record of a deceased patient. Are you sure you want to proceed?” My mind balks as it tries to reconcile the contradictions … in the record, you are very much alive. I can see how fast your heart is beating, what your body temperature is, how much you have been urinating. And yet, you are technically dead.

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