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1.  Eligibility of patients withheld or withdrawn from life-sustaining treatment to organ donation after circulatory arrest death: epidemiological feasibility study in a French Intensive Care Unit 
Transplantation brings sustainably improved quality of life to patients with end-stage organ failure. Persisting shortfall in available organs prompted French authorities and practitioners to focus on organ retrieval in patients withdrawn from life-sustaining treatment and awaiting cardiac arrest (Maastricht classification category III). The purpose of this study was to assess the theoretical eligibility of non-heart-beating donors dying in the intensive care unit (ICU) after a decision to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment (WoWt).
We collected the clinical and biological characteristics of all consecutive patients admitted to our ICU and qualified for a WoWt procedure under the terms of the French Leonetti law governing end-of-life care during a 12-month period. The theoretical organ donor eligibility (for kidney, liver, or lung retrieval) of deceased patients was determined a posteriori 1) according to routine medical criteria for graft selection and 2) according to the WoWt measures implemented and their impact on organ viability.
A total of 596 patients (mean age: 67 ± 16 yr; gender ratio M/F: 1.6; mean SAPS (Simplified Acute Physiology Score) II: 54 ± 24) was admitted to the ICU, of which 84 patients (mean age: 71 ± 14 yr, 14% of admissions, gender ratio M/F: 3.2) underwent WoWt measures. Eight patients left the unit alive. Forty-four patients presented a contraindication ruling out organ retrieval either preexisting admission (n = 20) or emerged during hospitalization (n = 24). Thirty-two patients would have been eligible as kidney (n = 23), liver (n = 22), or lung donors (n = 2). Cardiopulmonary support was withdrawn in only five of these patients, and three died within 120 minutes after withdrawal (the maximum delay compatible with organ viability for donor grafts).
In this pilot study, a significant number of patients deceased under WoWt conditions theoretically would have been eligible for organ retrieval. However, the WoWt measures implemented in our unit seems incompatible with donor organ viability. A French multicenter survey of end-of-life practices in ICU may help to identify potential appropriate organ donors and to interpret nation-specific considerations of the related professional, legal, and ethical frameworks.
PMCID: PMC3826506  PMID: 24199966
Tissue and organ harvesting; Withholding treatment; Life support care; Medical futility; Organ donation
2.  Donation after cardiocirculatory death: a call for a moratorium pending full public disclosure and fully informed consent 
Many believe that the ethical problems of donation after cardiocirculatory death (DCD) have been "worked out" and that it is unclear why DCD should be resisted. In this paper we will argue that DCD donors may not yet be dead, and therefore that organ donation during DCD may violate the dead donor rule. We first present a description of the process of DCD and the standard ethical rationale for the practice. We then present our concerns with DCD, including the following: irreversibility of absent circulation has not occurred and the many attempts to claim it has have all failed; conflicts of interest at all steps in the DCD process, including the decision to withdraw life support before DCD, are simply unavoidable; potentially harmful premortem interventions to preserve organ utility are not justifiable, even with the help of the principle of double effect; claims that DCD conforms with the intent of the law and current accepted medical standards are misleading and inaccurate; and consensus statements by respected medical groups do not change these arguments due to their low quality including being plagued by conflict of interest. Moreover, some arguments in favor of DCD, while likely true, are "straw-man arguments," such as the great benefit of organ donation. The truth is that honesty and trustworthiness require that we face these problems instead of avoiding them. We believe that DCD is not ethically allowable because it abandons the dead donor rule, has unavoidable conflicts of interests, and implements premortem interventions which can hasten death. These important points have not been, but need to be fully disclosed to the public and incorporated into fully informed consent. These are tall orders, and require open public debate. Until this debate occurs, we call for a moratorium on the practice of DCD.
PMCID: PMC3313846  PMID: 22206616
Dead donor rule; Death; Donation after cardiac death; Organ donation
3.  Donation after cardiocirculatory death in Canada 
These recommendations are the result of a national, multidisciplinary, year-long process to discuss whether and how to proceed with organ donation after cardiocirculatory death (DCD) in Canada. A national forum was held in February 2005 to discuss and develop recommendations on the principles, procedures and practice related to DCD, including ethical and legal considerations. At the forum's conclusion, a strong majority of participants supported proceeding with DCD programs in Canada. The forum also recognized the need to formulate and emphasize core values to guide the development of programs and protocols based on the medical, ethical and legal framework established at this meeting.
Although end-of-life care should routinely include the opportunity to donate organs and tissues, the duty of care toward dying patients and their families remains the dominant priority of health care teams. The complexity and profound implications of death are recognized and should be respected, along with differing personal, ethnocultural and religious perspectives on death and donation. Decisions around withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies, management of the dying process and the determination of death by cardiocirculatory criteria should be separate from and independent of donation and transplant processes.
The recommendations in this report are intended to guide individual programs, regional health authorities and jurisdictions in the development of DCD protocols. Programs will develop based on local leadership and advance planning that includes education and engagement of stakeholders, mechanisms to assure safety and quality and public information. We recommend that programs begin with controlled DCD within the intensive care unit where (after a consensual decision to withdraw life-sustaining therapy) death is anticipated, but has not yet occurred, and unhurried consent discussions can be held. Uncontrolled donation (where death has occurred after unanticipated cardiac arrest) should only be considered after a controlled DCD program is well established. Although we recommend that programs commence with kidney donation, regional transplant expertise may guide the inclusion of other organs. The impact of DCD, including pre-and post-mortem interventions, on donor family experiences, organ availability, graft function and recipient survival should be carefully documented and studied.
PMCID: PMC1635157  PMID: 17124739
4.  Pro/con debate: In patients who are potential candidates for organ donation after cardiac death, starting medications and/or interventions for the sole purpose of making the organs more viable is an acceptable practice 
Critical Care  2007;11(2):211.
Several hospitals have been developing programmes for organ donation after cardiac death. Such programmes offer options for organ donation to patients who do not meet brain-death criteria but wish to donate their organs after withdrawal of life-support. These programmes also increase the available organ pool at a time when demand exceeds supply. Given that potential donors are managed in intensive care units, intensivists will be key components of these programmes. Donation after cardiac death clearly carries a number of important ethical issues with it. In the present issue of Critical Care two established groups debate the ethical acceptability of using medications/interventions in potential organ donors for the sole purpose of making the organs more viable. Such debates will be an increasingly common component of intensivists' future practice.
PMCID: PMC2206444  PMID: 17442127
5.  The Dead Donor Rule: Can It Withstand Critical Scrutiny? 
Transplantation of vital organs has been premised ethically and legally on “the dead donor rule” (DDR)—the requirement that donors are determined to be dead before these organs are procured. Nevertheless, scholars have argued cogently that donors of vital organs, including those diagnosed as “brain dead” and those declared dead according to cardiopulmonary criteria, are not in fact dead at the time that vital organs are being procured. In this article, we challenge the normative rationale for the DDR by rejecting the underlying premise that it is necessarily wrong for physicians to cause the death of patients and the claim that abandoning this rule would exploit vulnerable patients. We contend that it is ethical to procure vital organs from living patients sustained on life support prior to treatment withdrawal, provided that there is valid consent for both withdrawing treatment and organ donation. However, the conservatism of medical ethics and practical concerns make it doubtful that the DDR will be abandoned in the near future. This leaves the current practice of organ transplantation based on the “moral fiction” that donors are dead when vital organs are procured.
PMCID: PMC3916748  PMID: 20439355
causing death; medical ethics; organ donation
6.  Non-heart-beating organ donors as a source of kidneys for transplantation: a chart review 
BACKGROUND: Organ transplantation is the treatment of choice for patients with end-stage organ failure, but the supply of organs has not increased to meet demand. This study was undertaken to determine the potential for kidney donation from patients with irremediable brain injuries who do not meet the criteria for brain death and who experience cardiopulmonary arrest after withdrawal of ventilatory support (controlled non-heart-beating organ donors). METHODS: The charts of 209 patients who died during 1995 in the Emergency Department and the intensive care unit at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary were reviewed. The records of patients who met the criteria for controlled non-heart-beating organ donation were studied in detail. The main outcome measure was the time from discontinuation of ventilation until cardiopulmonary arrest. RESULTS: Seventeen potential controlled non-heart-beating organ donors were identified. Their mean age was 62 (standard deviation 19) years. Twelve of the patients (71%) had had a cerebrovascular accident, and more than half (10 [59%]) did not meet the criteria for brain death because one or more brain stem reflexes were present. At the time of withdrawal of ventilatory support, the mean serum creatinine level was 71 (29) mumol/L, mean urine output was 214 (178) mL/h, and 9 (53%) patients were receiving inotropic agents. The mean time from withdrawal of ventilatory support to cardiac arrest was 2.3 (5.0) hours; 13 of the 17 patients died within 1 hour, and all but one died within 6 hours. For the year for which charts were reviewed, 33 potential conventional donors (people whose hearts were beating) were identified, of whom 21 (64%) became donors. On the assumption that 40% of the potential controlled non-heart-beating donors would not in fact have been donors (25% because of family refusal and 15% because of nonviability of the organs), there might have been 10 additional donors, which would have increased the supply of cadaveric kidneys for transplantation by 48%. INTERPRETATION: A significant number of viable kidneys could be retrieved and transplanted if eligibility for kidney donation was extended to include controlled non-heart-beating organ donors.
PMCID: PMC1230361  PMID: 10373998
7.  Kidney Transplantation from a Donor Following Cardiac Death Supported with Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2012;27(2):115-119.
To expand the donor pool, organ donation after cardiac death (DCD) has emerged. However, kidneys from DCD donors have a period of long warm ischemia between cardiac arrest and the harvesting of the organs. Recently, we used extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to minimize ischemic injury during 'no touch' periods in a Maastricht category II DCD donor and performed two successful kidney transplantations. The kidneys were procured from a 49-yr-old male donor. The warm ischemia time was 31 min, and the time of maintained circulation using ECMO was 7 hr 55 min. The cold ischemia time was 9 hr 15 min. The kidneys were transplanted into two recipients and functioned immediately after reperfusion. The grafts showed excellent function at one and three months post-transplantation; serum creatinine (SCr) levels were 1.0 mg/dL and 0.8 mg/dL and the estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFR) were 63 mL/min/1.73 m2 and 78 mL/min/1.73 m2 in the first recipient, and SCr levels were 1.1 mg/dL and 1.0 mg/dL and eGFR were 56 mL/min/1.73 m2 and 64 mL/min/1.73 m2 in the second recipient. In conclusion, it is suggested that kidney transplantation from a category II DCD donor assisted by ECMO is a reasonable modality for expanding donor pool.
PMCID: PMC3271282  PMID: 22323856
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation; Kidney Transplantation; Organ Donation After Cardiac Death
8.  An International Comparison of the Effect of Policy Shifts to Organ Donation following Cardiocirculatory Death (DCD) on Donation Rates after Brain Death (DBD) and Transplantation Rates 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62010.
During the past decade an increasing number of countries have adopted policies that emphasize donation after cardiocirculatory death (DCD) in an attempt to address the widening gap between the demand for transplantable organs and the availability of organs from donation after brain death (DBD) donors. In order to examine how these policy shifts have affected overall deceased organ donor (DD) and DBD rates, we analyzed deceased donation rates from 82 countries from 2000–2010. On average, overall DD, DBD and DCD rates have increased over time, with the proportion of DCD increasing 0.3% per year (p = 0.01). Countries with higher DCD rates have, on average, lower DBD rates. For every one-per million population (pmp) increase in the DCD rate, the average DBD rate decreased by 1.02 pmp (95% CI: 0.73, 1.32; p<0.0001). We also found that the number of organs transplanted per donor was significantly lower in DCD when compared to DBD donors with 1.51 less transplants per DCD compared to DBD (95% CI: 1.23, 1.79; p<0.001). Whilst the results do not infer a causal relationship between increased DCD and decreased DBD rates, the significant correlation between higher DCD and lower DBD rates coupled with the reduced number of organs transplanted per DCD donor suggests that a national policy focus on DCD may lead to an overall reduction in the number of transplants performed.
PMCID: PMC3647074  PMID: 23667452
9.  Recovery of transplantable organs after cardiac or circulatory death: Transforming the paradigm for the ethics of organ donation 
Organ donation after cardiac or circulatory death (DCD) has been introduced to increase the supply of transplantable organs. In this paper, we argue that the recovery of viable organs useful for transplantation in DCD is not compatible with the dead donor rule and we explain the consequential ethical and legal ramifications. We also outline serious deficiencies in the current consent process for DCD with respect to disclosure of necessary elements for voluntary informed decision making and respect for the donor's autonomy. We compare two alternative proposals for increasing organ donation consent in society: presumed consent and mandated choice. We conclude that proceeding with the recovery of transplantable organs from decedents requires a paradigm change in the ethics of organ donation. The paradigm change to ensure the legitimacy of DCD practice must include: (1) societal agreement on abandonment of the dead donor rule, (2) legislative revisions reflecting abandonment of the dead donor rule, and (3) requirement of mandated choice to facilitate individual participation in organ donation and to ensure that decisions to participate are made in compliance with the societal values of respect for autonomy and self-determination.
PMCID: PMC1892566  PMID: 17519030
10.  Clarifying the paradigm for the ethics of donation and transplantation: Was 'dead' really so clear before organ donation? 
Recent commentaries by Verheijde et al, Evans and Potts suggesting that donation after cardiac death practices routinely violate the dead donor rule are based on flawed presumptions. Cell biology, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, critical care life support technologies, donation and transplantation continue to inform concepts of life and death. The impact of oxygen deprivation to cells, organs and the brain is discussed in relation to death as a biological transition. In the face of advancing organ support and replacement technologies, the reversibility of cardiac arrest is now purely related to the context in which it occurs, in association to the availability and application of support systems to maintain oxygenated circulation. The 'complete and irreversible' lexicon commonly used in death discussions and legal statutes are ambiguous, indefinable and should be replaced by accurate terms. Criticism of controlled DCD on the basis of violating the dead donor rule, where autoresuscitation has not been described beyond 2 minutes, in which life support is withdrawn and CPR is not provided, is not valid. However, any post mortem intervention that re-establishes brain blood flow should be prohibited. In comparison to traditional practice, organ donation has forced the clarification of the diagnostic criteria for death and improved the rigour of the determinations.
PMCID: PMC2048971  PMID: 17718918
11.  Death, organ transplantation and medical practice 
A series of papers in Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine (PEHM) have recently disputed whether non-heart beating organ donors are alive and whether non-heart beating organ donation (NHBD) contravenes the dead donor rule. Several authors who argue that NHBD involves harvesting organs from live patients appeal to "strong irreversibility" (death beyond the reach of resuscitative efforts to restore life) as a necessary criterion that patients must meet before physicians can declare them to be dead. Sam Shemie, who defends our current practice of NHBD, holds that in fact physicians consider patients to be dead or not according to physician intention to resuscitate or not.
We suggest that criteria for a concept are not necessarily truth conditions for assertions involving the concept. Hence, non-heart beating donors may be declared dead without meeting the criterion of strong irreversibility even though strong irreversibility is implied by the concept of death. Our perception that a concept applies in a given case is determined not by the concept itself but by our necessary skill and judgment when using it. In the case of deciding that a patient is dead, such judgment is learned by physicians as they learn the practice of medicine and may vary according to circumstances. Current practice of NHBD can therefore be defended without abandoning death as an empirical concept, as Shemie appears to do. We conclude that the dead donor rule continues to be viable and ought to be retained so as to guarantee what the public most cares about as regards organ donation: that physicians can be trusted to make determinations of eligibility for organ donation in the interests of patients and not for other purposes such as increasing the availability of organs.
PMCID: PMC2276227  PMID: 18248665
12.  Brain stem death and organ donation. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1989;299(6706):1009-1010.
Organs for donation are in short supply in the United Kingdom, resulting in allegations that relatives of potential donors are not being asked for consent. Legislation on "required request" has been proposed to overcome this. The incidence, causes, complications, and patterns of organ donation in brain stem dead patients in one referral centre were studied over 12 months. Data were collected on all patients fulfilling criteria for brain stem death or considered suitable for donating organs after circulatory arrest. Forty two patients fulfilled the criteria for brain stem death, and in 10 further patients circulatory arrest occurred before formal testing was finished. The major causes of brain stem death were head injury (28) and intracranial haemorrhage (17). Consent to organ donation was obtained for 24 potential donors, and organs were donated by 23 of them. Twenty nine patients did not donate organs. The commonest reasons for failure to donate were medical unsuitability (13) and the coroner not releasing the body (eight). Consent was not sought in three cases, and the relatives refused consent in the remaining five. This study suggests that required request will not considerably increase the supply of donor organs.
PMCID: PMC1837905  PMID: 2511940
Bioethics  2012;26(1):32-48.
There are not enough solid organs available to meet the needs of patients with organ failure. Thousands of patients every year die on the waiting lists for transplantation. Yet there is one currently available, underutilized, potential source of organs. Many patients die in intensive care following withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment whose organs could be used to save the lives of others. At present the majority of these organs go to waste.
In this paper we consider and evaluate a range of ways to improve the number and quality of organs available from this group of patients. Changes to consent arrangements (for example conscription of organs after death) or changes to organ donation practice could dramatically increase the numbers of organs available, though they would conflict with currently accepted norms governing transplantation.
We argue that one alternative, Organ Donation Euthanasia, would be a rational improvement over current practice regarding withdrawal of life support. It would give individuals the greatest chance of being able to help others with their organs after death. It would increase patient autonomy. It would reduce the chance of suffering during the dying process. We argue that patients should be given the choice of whether and how they would like to donate their organs in the event of withdrawal of life support in intensive care.
Continuing current transplantation practice comes at the cost of death and prolonged organ failure. We should seriously consider all of the alternatives.
PMCID: PMC3267048  PMID: 20459428
organ transplantation ethics; medical ethics; euthanasia; tissue and organ procurement/ethics; tissue donors/supply & distribution
14.  Pro/con ethics debate: is nonheart-beating organ donation ethically acceptable? 
Critical Care  2002;6(3):192-195.
This pro/con debate explores the ethical issues surrounding nonheart-beating organ donation (NHBD), a source of considerable controversy. It is estimated that NHBD can increase the number of organs available for transplant by 25% at a time of great need. However, should NHBD be ethically acceptable? In support of NHBD, it may be acceptable practice if there is a separation of the rationale to withdraw life support/to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation from the decision to recover organs, if no conflicts of interest exist, if a waiting time precluding spontaneous return of circulation is included, and if NHBD conforms to a standardized protocol. Against NHBD, there are questions regarding the ambiguity and cultural perspectives of death, regarding whether a separation of rationale between withdrawal and donation is sufficient to preclude conflicts of interest, and regarding whether variable protocols arise that subordinate the patient to the goal of donation. Such concerns suggest NHBD may damage the trust in patient–physician relationships and may adversely affect organ donation rates.
PMCID: PMC137443  PMID: 12133176
bioethics; critical care; death; nonheart-beating organ donation; organ donation
15.  Challenges in Organ Transplantation 
Organ transplantation has progressed tremendously with improvements in surgical methods, organ preservation, and pharmaco-immunologic therapies and has become a critical pathway in the management of severe organ failure worldwide. The major sources of organs are deceased donors after brain death; however, a substantial number of organs come from live donations, and a significant number can also be obtained from non-heart-beating donors. Yet, despite progress in medical, pharmacologic, and surgical techniques, the shortage of organs is a worldwide problem that needs to be addressed internationally at the highest possible levels. This particular field involves medical ethics, religion, and society behavior and beliefs. Some of the critical ethical issues that require aggressive interference are organ trafficking, payments for organs, and the delicate balance in live donations between the benefit to the recipient and the possible harm to the donor and others. A major issue in organ transplantation is the definition of death and particularly brain death. Another major critical factor is the internal tendency of a specific society to donate organs. In the review below, we will discuss the various challenges that face organ donation worldwide, and particularly in Israel, and some proposed mechanisms to overcome this difficulty.
PMCID: PMC3678939  PMID: 23908807
organ transplantation; Israel National Transplantation Committee; brain and respiratory death
16.  Potential for organ donation in the United Kingdom: audit of intensive care records 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;332(7550):1124-1127.
Objectives To determine the true potential for solid organ donation from deceased heartbeating donors and the reasons for non-donation from potential donors.
Design An audit of all deaths in intensive care units, 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2005. The study was hierarchic, in that information was sought on whether or not brain stem testing was carried out; if so, whether or not organ donation was considered; if so whether or not the next of kin were approached; if so, whether or not consent was given; if so, whether or not organ donation took place.
Setting 341 intensive care units in 284 hospitals in the United Kingdom.
Participants 46 801 dead patients, leading to 2740 potential heartbeating solid organ donors and 1244 actual donors.
Main outcome measures Proportion of potential deceased heartbeating donors considered for organ donation, proportion of families who denied consent, and proportion of potential donors who became organ donors.
Results Over the two years of the study, 41% of the families of potential donors denied consent. The refusal rate for families of potential donors from ethnic minorities was twice that for white potential donors, but the age and sex of the potential donor did not affect the refusal rate. In 15% of families of potential donors there was no record of the next of kin being approached for permission for organ donation.
Conclusions Intensive care units are extremely good in considering possible organ donation from suitable patients. The biggest obstacle to improving the organ donation rate is the high proportion of relatives who deny consent.
PMCID: PMC1459557  PMID: 16641118
17.  Kidney and liver transplants from donors after cardiac death: initial experience at the London Health Sciences Centre 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2010;53(2):93-102.
The disparity between the number of patients waiting for an organ transplant and availability of donor organs increases each year in Canada. Donation after cardiac death (DCD), following withdrawal of life support in patients with hopeless prognoses, is a means of addressing the shortage with the potential to increase the number of transplantable organs.
We conducted a retrospective, single-centre chart review of organs donated after cardiac death to the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at the London Health Sciences Centre between July 2006 and December 2007. In total, 34 solid organs (24 kidneys and 10 livers) were procured from 12 DCD donors.
The mean age of the donors was 38 (range 18–59) years. The causes of death were craniocerebral trauma (n = 7), cerebrovascular accident (n = 4) and cerebral hypoxia (n = 1). All 10 livers were transplanted at our centre, as were 14 of the 24 kidneys; 10 kidneys were transplanted at other centres. The mean renal cold ischemia time was 6 (range 3–9.5) hours. Twelve of the 14 kidney recipients (86%) experienced delayed graft function, but all kidneys regained function. After 1-year follow-up, kidney function was good, with a mean serum creatinine level of 145 (range 107–220) μmol/L and a mean estimated creatinine clearance of 64 (range 41–96) mL/min. The mean liver cold ischemia time was 5.8 (range 5.5–8) hours. There was 1 case of primary nonfunction requiring retransplantation. The remaining 9 livers functioned well. One patient developed a biliary anastomotic stricture that resolved after endoscopic stenting. All liver recipients were alive after a mean follow-up of 11 (range 3–20) months. Since the inception of this DCD program, the number of donors referred to our centre has increased by 14%.
Our initial results compare favourably with those from the transplantation of organs procured from donors after brain death. Donation after cardiac death can be an important means of increasing the number of organs available for transplant, and its widespread implementation in Canada should be encouraged.
PMCID: PMC2845951  PMID: 20334741
18.  Perinatal and Pediatric Issues in Palliative and End-of-Life Care from the 2011 Summit on Compassionate Care 
Nursing outlook  2012;60(6):343-350.
More than 25,000 infants and children die in US hospitals annually; 86% occur in the NICU or PICU. Parents see the child’s pain and suffering and, near the point of death, must decide whether to resuscitate, limit medical treatment and/or withdraw life support. Immediately after the death parents must decide whether to see and/or hold the infant/child, donate organs, agree to an autopsy, make funeral arrangements, and somehow maintain functioning. Few children and their families receive pediatric palliative care services, especially those from minority groups. Barriers to these programs include lack of services, difficulty identifying the dying point, discomfort in withholding or withdrawing treatments, communication problems, conflicts in care among providers and between parents and providers, and differences in cultural beliefs about end-of-life care. The 2011 NIH Summit on the Science of Compassion provided recommendations in family involvement, end-of-life care, communication, health care delivery, and transdisciplinary participation.
PMCID: PMC3514406  PMID: 23036690
19.  Attitudes, Beliefs and Behaviors Surrounding Organ Donation among Hispanic Women 
Purpose of review
Hispanic individuals are disproportionately in need of donor organs and are less likely to consent to donation than their non-Hispanic counterparts. This review addresses psychological constructs including attitudes and beliefs surrounding organ donation within Hispanic communities and highlights the importance of women in the domain of organ donation.
Recent findings
Attitudes toward living and posthumous donation are favorable. Mistrust of the medical profession, concerns about religious acceptance of donation, perceptions of inequity in the distribution of donated organs, and the context in which donation requests typically are made serve as barriers to consent. Women are more likely to consent to donation than men.
Hispanic American groups are heterogeneous. Culturally-sensitive approaches to communicating a donation request must consider ethnic origin and language preference. Family discussion of donation should be encouraged by the medical community as part of health care decision making (independent of death or crisis); women may serve as an excellent bridge between healthcare providers and families in this regard.
PMCID: PMC2687523  PMID: 19469039
Hispanic populations; organ donation; attitudes
20.  Defining the vital condition for organ donation 
The issue of organ donation and of how the donor pool can or should be increased is one with significant practical, ethical and logistic implications. Here we comment on an article advocating a paradigm change in the so-called "dead donor rule". Such change would involve the societal and legal abandonment of the above rule and the introduction of mandated choice. In this commentary, we review some of the problems associated with the proposed changes as well as the problems associated with the current model. We emphasize the continuing problems with the definition of death and the physiological process of dying; we discuss the difficulties associated with a dichotomous view of death; we review the difficulties with non-beating heart donation and emphasize the current limitations of society's understanding of these complex issues. We conclude that public education remains the best approach and that such education should not be merely promotion of a particular ideology but honest debate of what is socially and morally acceptable and appropriate given the changes in vital organ support technology and the need to respect patient autonomy.
PMCID: PMC2169227  PMID: 18021447
21.  Organ donation after circulatory death: the forgotten donor? 
Critical Care  2006;10(5):166.
Donation after circulatory death (DCD) can be performed on neurologically intact donors who do not fulfill neurologic or brain death criteria before circulatory arrest. This commentary focuses on the most controversial donor-related issues anticipated from mandatory implementation of DCD for imminent or cardiac death in hospitals across the USA. We conducted a nonstructured review of selected publications and websites for data extraction and synthesis. The recommended 5 min of circulatory arrest does not universally fulfill the dead donor rule when applied to otherwise neurologically intact donors. Scientific evidence from extracorporeal perfusion in circulatory arrest suggests that the procurement process itself can be the event causing irreversibility in DCD. Legislative abandonment of the dead donor rule to permit the recovery of transplantable organs is necessary in the absence of an adequate scientific foundation for DCD practice. The designation of organ procurement organizations or affiliates to obtain organ donation consent introduces self-serving bias and conflicts of interest that interfere with true informed consent. It is important that donors and their families are not denied a 'good death', and the impact of DCD on quality of end-of-life care has not been satisfactorily addressed to achieve this.
PMCID: PMC1751081  PMID: 17020597
22.  Kidney retrieval after sudden out of hospital refractory cardiac arrest: a cohort of uncontrolled non heart beating donors 
Critical Care  2009;13(4):R141.
To counter the shortage of kidney grafts in France, a non heart beating donor (NHBD) program has recently been implemented. The aim of this study was to describe this pilot program for kidney retrieval from "uncontrolled" NHBD meaning those for whom attempts of resuscitation after a witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (CA) have failed (Maastricht 1 and 2), in a centre previously trained for retrieval from brain dead donors.
A prospective, monocentric, descriptive study concerning NHBD referred to our institution from February 2007 to June 2008. The protocol includes medical transport of refractory CA under mechanical ventilation and external cardiac massage, kidney protection by insertion of an intraaortic double-balloon catheter (DBC) with perfusion of a hypothermic solution, kidney retrieval and kidney preservation in a hypothermic pulsatile perfusion machine.
122 potential NHBD were referred to our institution after a mean resuscitation attempt of 35 minutes (20–95). Regarding the contraindications, 63 were finally accepted and 56 had the DBC inserted. Organ retrieval was performed in 27 patients (43%) and 31 kidneys out of the 54 procured (57%) have been transplanted. Kidney transplantation exclusion was related to family refusal (n = 15), past medical history, time constraints, viral serology, high vascular ex vivo resistance of the graft and macroscopic abnormalities. The 31 kidneys exhibited an expected high delayed graft function rate (92%). Despite these initial results transplanted kidney had good creatinine clearance at six months (66 ± 24 ml/min) with a 89% graft survival rate at six months.
This study shows the feasibility and efficacy of an organ procurement program targeting NHBD allowing a 10% increase in the kidney transplantation rate over 17 months. With a six months follow-up period, the results of transplanted kidney function were excellent.
PMCID: PMC2750199  PMID: 19715564
23.  Psychosocial variables associated with willingness to donate organs. 
Questionnaires were administered to 108 university psychology students to investigate attitudes and behaviour related to organ donation. Three groups (committed, uncommitted and opposed) were identified. A multivariate analysis of variance showed that, compared with uncommitted donors, committed donors felt better informed about organ donation, had discussed donation more often with family members and knew more people who had signed donor cards. The subjects in the opposed group and those in the uncommitted group cited different reasons for not signing a donor card. Empathy, religious beliefs and attitudes about death did not affect willingness to donate. Analyses of the interaction between willingness to donate one's own organs and willingness to donate those of a family member revealed a monotonic increase in willingness to donate the organs of a family member as the type of recipient became more personally relevant. Our findings indicate that when health care professionals request donor organs the potential recipients must be presented to the potential donors in a personally relevant manner. Educational programs must be developed to train medical personnel in how to effectively ask for organs without coercing the potential donor or invading the privacy of the potential recipient.
PMCID: PMC1269269  PMID: 2731099
24.  Effect of “collaborative requesting” on consent rate for organ donation: randomised controlled trial (ACRE trial) 
Objective To determine whether collaborative requesting increases consent for organ donation from the relatives of patients declared dead by criteria for brain stem death.
Design Unblinded multicentre randomised controlled trial using a sequential design. Centralised 24 hour telephone randomisation based on randomised permuted blocks of 10.
Setting 79 general, neuroscience, and paediatric intensive care units in the United Kingdom.
Participants 201 relatives of patients meeting criteria for brain stem death. Relatives were blind to the intervention and to the trial; all other participants were necessarily unblinded.
Interventions Collaborative requesting for consent for organ donation by the potential donor’s clinician and a donor transplant coordinator (organ procurement officer) compared with routine requesting by the clinical team alone.
Main outcome measure Proportion of relatives consenting to organ donation.
Results 101 relatives were randomised to routine requesting and 100 to collaborative requesting. All were analysed on an intention to treat basis. In the routine requesting group, 62 relatives consented to organ donation. In the collaborative requesting group, 57 relatives consented. After correction for the ethnicity, age, and sex of the potential donors the risk adjusted ratio of the odds of consent in the collaborative requesting group relative to the routine group was 0.80 (95% confidence interval 0.43 to 1.53), with a P value of 0.49 adjusted for interim analysis and trial over-running. The conversion rate (donors with consent from whom any organs were retrieved) was 92% (57/62) in the routine requesting group and 79% (45/57) in the collaborative requesting group (P=0.043). There were 140 approaches to relatives in the per protocol analysis, leading to 60.3% (44/73) consent after routine and 67.2% (45/67) after collaborative requesting (risk adjusted odds ratio of consent 1.47, 0.67 to 3.20, P=0.33).
Conclusion There is no increase in consent rates for organ donation when collaborative requesting is used in place of routine requesting by the patient’s clinician.
Trial registration ISRCTN01169903
PMCID: PMC2759437  PMID: 19815583
25.  Success of organ donation after out-of-hospital cardiac death and the barriers to its acceptance 
Critical Care  2009;13(5):189.
It is well documented that transplants save lives and improve quality of life for patients suffering from kidney, liver, and heart failure. Uncontrolled donation after cardiac death (UDCD) is an effective and ethical alternative to existing efforts towards increasing the available pool of organs. However, people who die from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are currently being denied the opportunity to be organ donors except in those few locations where out-of-hospital UDCD programs are active, such as in Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona. Societies have the medical and moral obligation to develop UDCD programs.
PMCID: PMC2784370  PMID: 19825202

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