Skip to main content

Experience with brain death and organ donation in a tertiary care hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Full text


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a national organ procurement organization (SCOT) with rigid criteria for the definition of brain death and a standard method of approaching the families of potential organ donors. As one of the major ICUs in Riyadh, we have reviewed our experience with organ donation.


Retrospective review of all confirmed brain deaths in the 14 bed Adult ICU during the two-year period from January 1997 to December 1998.


Out of 210 deaths in the ICU, there were 40 (19%) confirmed brain deaths using the SCOT criteria. Mean age was 21.7± 12.1 years with male:female ratio of 9:1 reflecting the fact that 24 (60%) of the cases resulted from road traffic accidents. Other trauma accounted for 4 (10%), cerebro-vascular accidents for 7 (18%) and brain anoxia for 5 (20%). Thirty-one (78%) patients were Saudi nationals and 9 (22%) were non-Saudi. SCOT approached the relatives of all patients that were confirmed as brain dead and was successful in obtaining consent for organ donation from 14 (35%) of these cases. Eight of these were Saudi and 6 were non-Saudi. Twenty-six kidneys, 10 livers and 22 corneas were successfully transplanted and 13 hearts were used for valves.


1) The organ retrieval rate of 35% compares favorably with other national and international data. This rate is probably related to the active involvement and coordination by SCOT. 2) Our incidence of brain death (19%) is above average and possibly related to the high incidence of road traffic accidents due to the unique traffic conditions with extreme heat and lack of seat belt use. 3) Family refusal for organ donation remains the main reason for failure to donate and greater effort is still required to increase public awareness in the Kingdom about the concept of brain death and the importance of organ donation.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Djazmati, W., Attar, B., Arabi, Y. et al. Experience with brain death and organ donation in a tertiary care hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Crit Care 4 (Suppl 1), P209 (2000).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: