Skip to main content

Outcome after CPR: when we cannot save lives, we can save organs


Patients resuscitated after cardiac arrest (CA) who suffer bad neurologic outcome or become brain dead might become organ donors (OD) when well managed and identified. We report on the cohort of patients resuscitated after in-hospital or out-of-hospital CA becoming OD in a tertiary community hospital with an intensive donor identification program.


Data from our 28-bed mixed medical/surgical adult ICU in a 900-bed tertiary hospital were analyzed from 2010 to 2014.


Our ICU admitted 2,320 patients/year. Overall ICU mortality in this period was 7.4%. A summary of the results is presented in Table 1. Of the 219 patients admitted after CA, 21 (10%) became OD. This resulted in 55 successfully transplanted organs (28 kidneys, 17 livers, seven lung pairs, three hearts). Of note, good outcome (CPC 1 and 2) was achieved in 55 patients (25%).

Table 1


Ten percent of patients resuscitated after CA and admitted to the ICU become OD, consisting of up to 31% of the total number of OD in our center. Patients resuscitated after CA who suffer severe irreversible brain damage or are brain dead can thus substantially expand the donor pool. This justifies extensive resuscitation efforts, if not to save lives, then to save organs. This might be reassuring for families, staff and the community.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Caestecker, C., Froyman, J., Lormans, P. et al. Outcome after CPR: when we cannot save lives, we can save organs. Crit Care 19 (Suppl 1), P440 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Emergency Medicine
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Brain Damage
  • Organ Donor
  • Neurologic Outcome