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The ESAIC is dedicated to supporting professionals in anaesthesiology and intensive care by serving as the hub for development and dissemination of valuable educational, scientific, research, and networking resources.



The ESAIC hosts the Euroanaesthesia and Focus Meeting congresses that serve as platforms for cutting-edge science and innovation in the field. These events bring together experts, foster networking, and facilitate knowledge exchange in anaesthesiology, intensive care, pain management, and perioperative medicine. Euroanaesthesia is one of the world’s largest and most influential scientific congresses for anaesthesia professionals. Held annually throughout Europe, our congress is a contemporary event geared towards education, knowledge exchange and innovation in anaesthesia, intensive care, pain and perioperative medicine, as well as a platform for immense international visibility for scientific research.


Professional Growth

The ESAIC's mission is to foster and provide exceptional training and educational opportunities. The ESAIC ensures the provision of robust and standardised examination and certification systems to support the professional development of anaesthesiologists and to ensure outstanding future doctors in the field of anaesthesiology and intensive care.



The ESAIC aims to advance patient outcomes and contribute to the progress of anaesthesiology and intensive care evidence-based practice through research. The ESAIC Clinical Trial Network (CTN), the Academic Contract Research Organisation (A-CRO), the Research Groups and Grants all contribute to the knowledge and clinical advances in the peri-operative setting.

Learn more about the ESAIC Clinical Trial Network (CTN) and the associated studies.


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The ESAIC is actively involved as a consortium member in numerous EU funded projects. Together with healthcare leaders and practitioners, the ESAIC's involvement as an EU project partner is another way that it is improving patient outcomes and ensuring the best care for every patient.


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The ESAIC aims to promote the professional role of anaesthesiologists and intensive care physicians and enhance perioperative patient outcomes by focusing on quality of care and patient safety strategies. The Society is committed to implementing the Helsinki Declaration and leading patient safety projects.



To ESAIC is committed to implementing the Glasgow Declaration and drive initiatives towards greater environmental sustainability across anaesthesiology and intensive care in Europe.



The ESAIC works in collaboration with industry, national societies, and specialist societies to promote advancements in anaesthesia and intensive care. The Industry Partnership offers visibility and engagement opportunities for industry participants with ESAIC members, facilitating understanding of specific needs in anaesthesiology and in intensive care. This partnership provides resources for education and avenues for collaborative projects enhancing science, education, and patient safety. The Specialist Societies contribute to high-quality educational opportunities for European anaesthesiologists and intensivists, fostering discussion and sharing, while the National Societies, through NASC, maintain standards, promote events and courses, and facilitate connections. All partnerships collectively drive dialogue, learning, and growth in the anaesthesiology and intensive care sector.



Guidelines play a crucial role in delivering evidence-based recommendations to healthcare professionals. Within the fields of anaesthesia and intensive care, guidelines are instrumental in standardizing clinical practices and enhancing patient outcomes. For many years, the ESAIC has served as a pivotal platform for facilitating continuous advancements, improving care standards and harmonising clinical management practices across Europe.



With over 40 years of publication history, the EJA (European Journal of Anaesthesiology) has established itself as a highly respected and influential journal in its field. It covers a wide range of topics related to anaesthesiology and intensive care medicine, including perioperative medicine, pain management, critical care, resuscitation, and patient safety.



Becoming a member of ESAIC implies becoming a part of a vibrant community of nearly 8,000 professionals who exchange best practices and stay updated on the latest developments in anaesthesiology, intensive care and perioperative medicine. ESAIC membership equips you with the tools and resources necessary to enhance your daily professional routine, nurture your career growth, and play an active role in advancing anaesthesiology, intensive care and perioperative medicine.

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EA20 Newsletter: Abstract 4823: sustaining life to facilitate organ donation – in whose best interest is this, in the new UK opt out donor system?

Submitted abstract

In an abstract presented at this year’s Euroanaesthesia, doctors question in whose best interest is a life-sustaining treatment to facilitate organ donation, in light of the UK’s new ‘opt out’ system that presumes that all people are potential organ donors unless they have opted out.

“Our case highlights the ethics underlying life-sustaining treatments to facilitate organ donation, and where a line should be drawn such that interventions delivered still constitute the patient’s best interests,” say the authors, who include Dr Nia Evans, Junior Doctor at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, UK, Dr Atul Garg and Dr. Viktorija Cerniauskiene, Intensive Care Consultants at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, Walsall, UK.

Organ donations come from the death of donors in two different ways: Organ Donation after Brain Death (DBD) and Organ Donation after Circulatory Death (DCD). In DBD, the person has no measurable brain activity, and has been declared brain dead, and is kept on life support while their organs are removed. In DCD, the person’s heart has stopped, and they have no pulse or other signs of circulation. Five minutes after this, death can be declared, and the person’s organs are removed across the following one to two hours.

However, worldwide, DBD is declining because the conditions that lead to brain death are limited. In most cases, brain bleeding (for example intracerebral haemorrhage – a type of stoke) or traumatic brain injury lead to brain death. Because of better prevention (progress in road safety legislation, safer cars, advances in arterial hypertension disease treatment) and treatment options, DBD numbers are declining.

In this case study, the authors discuss their patient, who was a 56-year-old male, who had a cardiac arrest in October of 2019, resulting in an irreversible brain injury from which he would never recover. In intensive care, he had a “Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation” order in place and a plan for DCD. Following a sudden deterioration into ventricular tachycardia (a very fast heart rate), drugs including amiodarone and vasopressors were given to stabilise him and provide more time to ensure organ viability for DCD.

Despite these life-prolonging treatments, the period of instability he had suffered deemed him unsuitable for donation. Put more simply, the patient’s blood pressure couldn’t be maintained at the desired level to ensure that his organs received enough blood and oxygen. This can make organs not suitable for donation, meaning they wouldn’t work if transplanted.

The authors explain that preparation for donation through DCD, as happened in this case, may take at least a few hours (approaching the family to confirm it is fine to proceed, multiple blood tests, and the organ retrieval team has to arrive at the donating hospital and set up theatres). “If a patient dies because of any reason, for example, tachycardia, while preparations are taking time, the donation can’t happen,” they explain.

“Our patient was becoming increasingly unstable, requiring drugs to control the high heart rate and high doses of inotropes to sustain life by keeping his heart beating. We are raising the question: is it is ethical to enhance and prolong life-sustaining treatment with an aim to facilitate organ donation, while these preparations are taking place if the patient has not specifically said they want to be an organ donor?”

They add: “In this case, it was decided to initiate amiodarone and vasopressors as a life-sustaining treatment for the sole purpose of organ donation.”

The authors point to UK Legal Guidance stating the maintenance of life-sustaining treatments is ethical if there is no harm or distress caused to the patient or family. However, the Consensus Statement on DCD from the British Transplant Society and Intensive Care Society consider the appropriateness of initiating new treatments such as inotropes to be unclear.  They say: “As our patient was on the organ donor register it could be argued that treatment decisions were ethical, as they were in his best interest.”

“However, now the UK has transitioned to an ‘Opt-Out’ policy for organ donation in 2020 to tackle deficits ineligible donors. This will add further ambiguity to the ethical dilemma because it will no longer be appropriate to presume that the patient has consciously chosen to be on the organ donation register. Therefore, life-sustaining treatments such as those given to our patient may not now be in their best interest.”

They conclude: “Although life-sustaining treatment for the sole purpose of organ donation can increase the organ donor pool, it is highly contentious. Existing guidelines do not provide a clear framework to guide clinical decision-making. Therefore, decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. The UK’s 2020 ‘Opt-Out’ policy likely is likely to make such decisions even more complex.”

Professor Julian Savulescu, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, UK (who is not connected to this research) adds in a comment: “We need to get beyond this outdated idea that medical treatment should only be provided in the patient’s best interests. Sometimes it is provided out of respect for their autonomy, sometimes for the benefit of others. Keeping brain-dead patients’ organs functioning is not in their interests – they are dead. What matters is – are they suffering? If not, doctors can sustain their organs for the benefit of others. The new opt-out system doesn’t change that. People who are dead, or imminently dead, have no further use for their organs. But they are literally life-saving to large numbers of other people.”



This article is based on poster presentation 4823 at the Euroanaesthesia congress held online this year. The research has not yet been submitted to a medical journal for publication.

For full abstract, click here

For full poster, click here

For video presentation that accompanies the poster, click here

For more on DCD as it relates to this article, see the UK NHS Blood and Transplant guidance:  Donation after Circulatory Death. https://www.odt.nhs.uk/deceaseddonation/best-practice-guidance/donation-after-circulatory-death/.


Read More of our special newsletter covering our virtual congress

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