Doctors seek organ donation from deaths outside of hospitals

The Wisconsin State Journal | David Wahlberg

Less than 2 percent of the 2.6 million Americans who die each year qualify for organ donation, largely because most people die outside of hospitals and hospital deaths generally are required for donation.

Some doctors are advocating for a new type of donation — from people who die of cardiac arrest at home, in emergency rooms or other places outside of inpatient hospital units.

First responders, after exhausting resuscitation efforts, would ask to preserve the bodies with solutions or machines. They or others would seek consent for donation.

The idea, allowed in France and Spain, is called “uncontrolled donation after circulatory determination of death.” It could generate 22,000 more donation opportunities per year, more than the 14,000 or so annual donors in the U.S. today, according to the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit that advises Congress.

“The U.S. organ donation system is not leveraging an approach that could expand the pool of potential donors,” Dr. Stephen Wall and colleagues at the New York University School of Medicine wrote in May in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Continue reading