Donation after cardiac death in pediatric critical care*

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To describe the unmet need for pediatric organs, the history of donation after cardiac death (DCD), implementation of DCD policies in children's hospitals, and the current U.S. experience with DCD in children.


Review of existing literature and national data regarding DCD.


Three children's hospitals and a national organ procurement network.


Nationwide review of pediatric candidates for transplantation and pediatric DCD donors.



Measurements and Main Results:

Interest in DCD has greatly increased over the past several years due to limited organ availability for transplantation. Leading medical groups have evaluated and endorsed DCD, and more hospitals are offering DCD as part of end-of-life care options for dying patients and to increase donation. Children's hospitals need to evaluate this concept and develop ethically sound polices to meet the needs of patients and families. Preliminary reports regarding organ function from DCD donors are promising, and DCD is increasing.


The widening gap between the need for organs and the availability of organs from brain-dead donors has led to a resurgence of both interest in and use of organs donated after cardiac death. Children's hospitals need to explore DCD as an option in select circumstances to serve grieving families who would like to donate and to increase organ availability for transplantation. DCD programs are dependent on input and support from critical care providers.

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