Changing Patterns of Organ Donation: Brain Dead Donors Are Not Being Lost by Donation After Circulatory Death

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The clinical characteristics of all New England Organ Bank (NEOB) donors after circulatory death (DCD) donors were analyzed between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2014. During that 5-year period, there were 494 authorized medically suitable potential DCDs that the NEOB evaluated, constituting more than 30% of deceased donors coordinated annually by the NEOB. From the cohort of 494 authorized potential DCDs, 331 (67%) became actual DCD, 82 (17%) were attempted as a DCD but did not progress to donation, and 81 (16%) transitioned to an actual donor after brain death (DBD). Two hundred seventy-six organs were transplanted from the 81 donors that transitioned from DCD to actual DBD, including 24 heart, 70 liver, 12 single and 14 bilateral lung, and 12 pancreas transplants. When patients with devastating brain injury admitted to the intensive care units are registered donors, the Organ Procurement Organization staff should share the patient's donation decision with the health care team and the patient's family, as early as possible after the comfort measures only discussion has been initiated. The experience of the NEOB becomes an important reference of the successful implementation of DCD that enables an expansion of deceased donation (inclusive of DBD).

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