European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 177, Issue 5, pp 709–714 | Cite as

Organ and tissue donation in a regional paediatric intensive care unit: evaluation of practice

  • Laura CaroneEmail author
  • Shrirang Alurkar
  • Phoebe Kigozi
  • Harish Vyas
Original Article


Approximately 2% of those on the organ transplant list in the UK are children. Early identification of donors and referral to organ donation teams (ODT) has proven to increase both the success rate of gaining consent and the number of organs actually retrieved. To evaluate the practice relating to organ donation for children receiving end-of-life care on a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) measured against the National Guidelines. All children 0–18 who received their end-of-life care and died on the PICU. A retrospective cohort study of organ donation patterns including referral, approach, consent and donation. This involved a review of case notes on PICU between the years 2009 and 2014. One hundred five deaths were identified and 100 notes were examined and data analysed to ascertain if religion, age and length of stay on PICU impacted on practice. Eighty-six children met the early identification criteria for potential donors, 40 (46.5%) children were referred to the ODT and 33 (38.3%) families were approached regarding donation. Twenty-one (24.4%) families consented to donation. Seventeen donations took place with a total of 41 sets of organs/tissues retrieved. Despite the majority of children meeting early identification for potential donors, many were not being referred.

Conclusions: All children on end-of-life care should be referred for potential organ donation. Organ donation needs to be seen as a priority for hospitals as a part of routine end-of-life care to help increase referral rates and give families the opportunity to donate. Many paediatric deaths are not referred for consideration of organ donation, despite guidelines stating that this process should be standard of care. Further optimization of referral rates may aid in increasing the number of organs available for donation.

What is Known:

Shortage of organs continues to be a national problem.

NICE guidelines state that all patients who are on end-of-life care should have the option of organ donation explored.

Required referral both increases the number of donors and organs donated.

What is New:

The process of identifying and referring children for paediatric organ donation.

Identifies that children are still not being referred for organ donation.

Organ donation is still not a priority for hospitals.


Organ donation End-of-life care PICU Tissue donation 


Authors’ Contributions

Laura Carone: Involved in study design, collection and analysis of data, drafting and revising the article and gave final approval of the submitted version

Phoebe Kigozi: Involved in analysis of data, drafting and revising the article and gave final approval of the submitted version.

Shrirang Alurkar: Involved in study design, collection and analysis of data, drafting and revising the article and gave final approval of the submitted version

Harish Vyas: Involved in study design, collection and analysis of data, drafting and revising the article and gave final approval of the submitted version.

All authors contributed to the data collection, analysis and writing of the paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors state that they do not have a financial relationship with Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FY2—LNR DeaneryLeicesterEngland
  2. 2.Paediatric Intensive Care UnitNottingham University HospitalNottinghamEngland
  3. 3.Emeritus Honorary Professor and Honorary Consultant in PICU and Respiratory medicineUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamEngland

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