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Giving the neurotransmitter dopamine to brain-dead organ donors may help preserve the quality of their kidneys for more successful transplantation, new research suggests. Most transplanted kidneys come from donors whose hearts are beating but who have suffered brain death, a traumatic chain of events that can damage organs and increase the likelihood of the recipient needing dialysis after surgery.

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Transplant Donors

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TUESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Giving the neurotransmitter dopamine to brain-dead organ donors may help preserve the quality of their kidneys for more successful transplantation, new research suggests.

Most transplanted kidneys come from donors whose hearts are beating but who have suffered brain death, a traumatic chain of events that can damage organs and increase the likelihood of the recipient needing dialysis after surgery.

According to the study by researchers from the University Medical Centre in Mannheim, Germany, treating brain-dead organ donors with dopamine reduced the likelihood the kidney recipient would need dialysis in the first week after the transplantation.

The study is published in the Sept. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In a trial that involved 264 deceased heart-beating donors, low-dose infusions of dopamine were given to the donors for an average of nearly six hours.

After surgery, about 35.4 percent of kidney recipients whose donors did not receive dopamine required multiple dialyses before their renal function recovered, compared to 24.7 percent in the dopamine group.

The study also found that needing multiple dialyses increased the chances of transplantation failure in the long-term; a single, post-transplant dialysis did not.

"This study shows that pretreatment of the deceased heart-beating donor with low-dose dopamine reduces the need for dialysis in the recipient after kidney transplantation," researchers wrote.

The organ donations resulted in 487 kidney transplants at 60 hospitals in Europe between March 2004 and August 2007.

More information

For more on organ donation, see OrganDonor.gov.

SOURCE: JAMA, new release, Sept. 8. 2009

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