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Dopamine primes kidneys for a new host

Transplant patients may fare better if brain-dead organ donors receive an infusion of the compound before surgery

4:20pm, September 8, 2009

Giving dopamine infusions to brain-dead organ donors while they still have a heartbeat seems to fortify their kidneys against the rigors of transplant, a new study shows. Patients receiving a kidney from such donors are less likely to require multiple sessions of blood-cleansing dialysis immediately after the transplant operation, researchers report in the Sept. 9 Journal of the American Medical Association.

What’s more, treating a donor with dopamine seems to prevent some of the damage to kidneys that happens while the organs wait to be transplanted, the scientists find.

Brain-dead donors supply the majority of kidneys for transplant. Such donors often have suffered trauma or brain hemorrhage and have no chance of regaining brain function.

Although dopamine is best known as a neurotransmitter that guides brain signaling, the chemical has been used in intensive care units to stabilize blood pressure in patients, says study coauthor Benito Yard

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