Survey of U.S. Organ Procurement Organizations Regarding Pediatric Organ Donor Management

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To describe the current practice of pediatric organ donor management in the United States for donors declared dead based upon neurologic criteria. The study directs particular attention to how pediatric donors are defined, the use of donor management guidelines, the use of donor management goals, and the involvement of pediatric critical care or transplantation expertise.


Cross-sectional observational study using a web-based survey and follow-up telephone interview with respondents from U.S. organ procurement organizations. The study also incorporated organ procurement organization–specific data on organ yield for the 4-year period (2010–2013) preceding the study.


The 58 U.S. organ procurement organizations.


Respondents chosen by each organ procurement organization.



Measurements and Main Results:

All 58 U.S. organ procurement organizations participated in the study. Fifty-two respondents (90%) indicated that their organ procurement organization distinguished pediatric from adult donors resulting in 28 unique pediatric definitions. Thirty-nine organ procurement organizations utilized some form of written pediatric management guidelines, and 27 (47%) maintained pediatric donor management goals; compliance was infrequently monitored for both guidelines (28%) and goals (33%). A pediatric intensivist was always or usually involved in pediatric donor management at 47 organ procurement organizations (81%); transplant/organ recovery surgeons were always or usually involved at 12 organ procurement organizations (21%). There was an increase in the number of organs transplanted per donor among donors 11–17 years old for organ procurement organizations that used donor management goals for the duration of the period studied (p < 0.01). There was also an increase in the ratio of observed/expected organs transplanted among donors of 0–10 years old for organ procurement organizations that always or usually consulted a transplant/organ recovery surgeon (p = 0.02) although this did not reach our threshold for statistical significance..


There is little consensus among organ procurement organizations regarding the definition of “pediatric” during organ donor management. Most organ procurement organizations employ written pediatric guidelines and use pediatric intensive care physicians for assistance in managing these donors. There is a positive association between the use of donor management goals and organ yield among pediatric donors in the 11- to 17-year age group.

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