Trauma victims could be an important source of organs. This article presents two cases of successful organ donation and transplant, after Maastricht category III cardiac death in patients with successfully repaired AAST grade V traumatic cardiac injuries.

Case presentation:

The first donor was an adult patient with self-inflicted heart stab wound and non-survivable burn injury. The second one was an adult patient with blunt cardiac and abdominal trauma and an anoxic brain injury due to a car accident. The cardiac injury was promptly repaired in both patients. In the first case, adequate organ perfusion ante-mortem was achieved thanks to venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and intensive care unit support. The above procedure allowed successful organ donation and transplantation even after Maastricht category III cardiac death. This is the first case reported where, for organ donation purposes, it was made necessary first thing to avoid the immediate death of the patient, due to a rare and frequently not survivable cardiac injury. The challenge of preserving organ perfusion, due to major burn injury effects, was faced afterwards.


The outcomes of these two cases suggest that a repaired heart injury should not be considered as an absolute contraindication to organ donation, even if it is associated with non-survivable major burns. Therefore, cardiac death could provide an opportunity for these kinds of patients to contribute to the pool of potential organ donors.

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