Emergency Medicine and Transplantation

  • Matjaž Zwitter


The world of an intensive care unit is a volatile mixture of rapid decisions and actions, great hopes and frequent disappointments, bringing the severely ill back to life and facing death, limited communication with patients, and difficult communication with family members. While some patients recover from severe injuries and apparently hopeless situations, others deteriorate despite all efforts of the medical team. A moment when further intensive treatment is considered to be futile should preferably be made by consensus of the medical team and then communicated to the family. In such a situation, the withholding or withdrawal of intensive medical procedures is justified. Only after confirmation of death are the relatives approached with information on potential organ donation. In the absence of a person’s advance directives, some countries allow removal of organs for transplantation regardless of the opinion of family members; nevertheless, a compassionate explanation is preferable and will most often result in consent.


Withholding intensive care Withdrawal of intensive care Futile intensive care Determining death Organ transplantation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matjaž Zwitter
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia
  2. 2.Institute of OncologyLjubljanaSlovenia

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