Background — Shortfalls in deceased organ donation lead to shortages of solid organs available for transplantation. The authors assessed rates of deceased organ donation and compared hospitals that had clinical services for transplant recipients (transplant hospitals) to those that did not (general hospitals).
Methods — The authors conducted a population-based cohort analysis involving patients who died from traumatic brain injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage or other catastrophic neurologic conditions in Ontario, Canada, between Apr. 1, 1994, and Mar. 31, 2011. We distinguished between acute care hospitals with and without transplant services. The primary outcome was actual organ donation determined through the physician database for organ procurement procedures.
Results — Overall, 87 129 patients died from catastrophic neurologic conditions during the study period, of whom 1930 became actual donors. Our primary analysis excluded patients from small hospitals, reducing the total to 79 746 patients, of whom 1898 became actual donors. Patients who died in transplant hospitals had a distribution of demographic characteristics similar to that of patients who died in other large general hospitals. Transplant hospitals had an actual donor rate per 100 deaths that was about 4 times the donor rate at large general hospitals (5.0 v. 1.4, p < 0.001). The relative reduction in donations at general hospitals was accentuated among older patients, persisted among patients who were the most eligible candidates and amounted to about 121 fewer actual donors per year (adjusted odds ratio 0.58, 95% confidence interval 0.36-0.92). Hospital volumes were only weakly correlated with actual organ donation rates.
Interpretation — Optimizing organ donation requires greater attention to large general hospitals. These hospitals account for most of the potential donors and missed opportunities for deceased organ donation.
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