A review of a successful national meeting to accelerate improvement for pediatric donation and transplantation
by: Thomas A. Nakagawa, M.D.
200 healthcare professionals convened on July 12 and 13th in Denver, Colorado to attend the 2011 Pediatric Organ Donation Summit sponsored by HRSA and the Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance. Since the previous Pediatric Summit in 2007, those involved in pediatric donation and transplantation have seen increases in pediatric transplantation and a reduction in the number of children dying on the waiting list. Our challenge this year was to further reduce the number of children who will die waiting for a needed organ.
The attendees of this clinically focused conference heard from national leaders in the critical care field about important topics related to pediatric donation. Donor management, the revised pediatric brain death guidelines, and building relationships between the pediatric critical care team and the OPO were among the topics that opened this national meeting. Sessions that sparked significant interest and led to extensive discussion were potential for and utilization of neonatal organs, optimizing pediatric organs for transplantation, and the role of palliative care specialists in end-of-life care and organ donation. Important issues regarding medical examiner and coroner denials were discussed and participants heard how successful programs have minimized or achieved zero denials for organ donation. Research aspects related to donation were also discussed with presentations about liver cell infusions as a bridge to transplantation and participants were introduced to the Organ Research and Donation Consortium. Issues related to pediatric DCDD including determination of death, ethical challenges for critical care teams, and overcoming obstacles to develop a DCDD program helped round out the sessions for this national conference. Some participants took advantage of the opportunity to tour the pediatric ICU and other facilities at the Children's Hospital of Colorado.
Two very special families shared their experiences during this meeting. Conner Randall provided not only great entertainment, but positive reinforcement for our work related to recovery and transplantation of pediatric organs as he discussed his journey from infancy to becoming an adult and receiving 2 heart transplants. Perhaps the most emotional presentation was from Lori and Jonathan Driscoll who provided a beautiful story about their son Liam who became the third neonatal DCD heart donor at the Children's Hospital of Colorado.
The success of this national pediatric conference was due to an amazing and dedicated faculty planning committee, an esteemed group of presenters, and also to the attendees including more than 40 participants who were pediatric critical care and neonatal medical specialists. This conference engaged pediatric specialists to network and share protocols, future ideas for research projects, and find ways to move pediatric organ donation and transplantation to the next level. There was robust discussion throughout this conference with a level of energy that allowed all participants to make bold requests and offers and leave in action. We know the energy and enthusiasm that was present in Denver, Colorado will be felt in communities across the US as these participants return home and further shape and define protocols and strategies to accelerate improvement in all aspects of pediatric donation and transplantation.
Here's to saving more lives through donation and transplantation! Here's to our goal of having less than 100 children die on the pediatric wait list this year, with the ultimate goal of ZERO deaths on the pediatric wait list! Congratulations to all who were involved with this highly successful Pediatric Summit.
Thomas A. Nakagawa, M.D.
Thomas A. Nakagawa, M.D., FAAP, FCCM
Professor, Anesthesiology and Pediatrics Wake Forest University School of Medicine Director, Pediatric Critical Care Wake Forest Baptist Health, Brenner Children's Hospital Winston-Salem, NC 27157