Can a Brain Injury Affect Organ Donation?

A report published in Science Translational Magazine sheds new light on the connection between lung function and traumatic brain injury.

Due to the fact that organs lose viability shortly after the heart stops beating, most lung transplants come from brain dead donors. Only 15 to 20 percent of all lungs are considered appropriate for transplant, so researchers are eager to find ways to expand the donor pool.

There are three common causes of brain death among lung donors: traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke and anoxic brain injury. Of the three conditions, researchers found that lungs from TBI victims performed significantly worse, even from young, healthy donors.

An interdisciplinary team led by high-level researchers set out to determine how the brain injury and the lung problems were connected.

Scholars participating in the study noted that the lungs of a TBI patient started accumulating fluid four hours after a brain injury. After 24 hours, the lungs were only functioning at about 20 percent.

Fluid accumulation prevents the lungs from properly oxygenating a patient’s blood. If oxygen does not make it into the blood stream, the body stops functioning and literally suffocates.

Researchers realized that after a brain injury, a molecule known as HMGB1 attaches to RAGE receptors in the lungs, causing harmful inflammation. They genetically eliminated RAGE receptors in a series of mice, and discovered that those subjects did not suffer acute lung injury after a TBI.

A cross reference confirmed that patients with higher HMGB1 levels experienced poorer short-term results from lung transplants. The researchers hope that their discovery will help match patients with better donors and improve the procedure’s overall success.

Brain Injury Attorney in Colorado

Scientists continue to make advances in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of traumatic brain injuries. Metier Law Firm has defended brain injury victims for more than 30 years, so follow us on Facebook or Google Plus for more information on brain injury research.

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