Hypothermia in organ donation: A friend or foe?

Bellal Joseph, Mazhar Khalil, Viraj Pandit, Narong Kulvatunyou, Bardiya Zangbar, Andrew Tang, Terence O'Keeffe, Kara Snyder, Donald J. Green, Lynn Gries, Randall S. Friese, Peter Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Hypothermia is a known predictor of mortality in trauma patients; however, its impact on organ procurement has not been defined. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of hypothermia on organ procurement. We hypothesized that admission hypothermia impedes successful organ procurement.

METHODS: We performed a 5-year retrospective analysis of all trauma patients approached for organ donation. Hypothermia was defined as a core body temperature 36°C/97°F or less. The two groups (hypothermic [HT] vs. nonhypothermic [non-HT]) were matched in a 1:1 ratio using propensity score matching for age, sex, admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, systolic blood pressure, international normalized ratio, and Injury Severity Score (ISS). Primary outcome measures were eligibility for organ donation and solid organ procurement. Secondary outcome measures were blood product and vasopressor requirements.

RESULTS: This study was composed of 537 brain-dead patients, of whom 416 (HT, 208; non-HT, 208) were included in the analysis. The mean (SD) age was 40.5 (23.7) years, 75% were male, mean (SD) temperature was 36.6°C (1.7°C), and mean (SD) systolic blood pressure was 75.35 (68.7) mm Hg. Patients who were hypothermic on presentation were less likely to be eligible for organ donation (44.7% vs. 96%, p ≤ 0.001), and they donated fewer organs per donor (p = 0.04). HT patients required more units of fresh frozen plasma (p = 0.04) and greater mean dose of dopamine (p = 0.03) and vasopressin (p = 0.03) compared with the non-HT patients.

CONCLUSION: Admission hypothermia is associated with decreased organ donation in potential organ donors independent of admission coagulopathy, hypotension, and injury severity. Early correction of hypothermia may improve organ donation in trauma patients.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Epidemiologic/prognostic study, level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-563
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Brain-dead organ donors
  • Eligibility
  • Hypothermia
  • Solid organ donation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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