Canadian Journal of Anesthesia

, Volume 50, Issue 9, pp 955–960 | Cite as

Mandatory reporting of “imminent” death to identify organ donors: History, controversy, and potential solutions

  • Peter Dodek
Neuroanesthesia and Intensive Care



To review the history of mandatory reporting for the purpose of identifying potential organ and tissue donors, and the controversy around the terms, “imminent” or “impending” death, and to suggest a solution to this controversy.


In this narrative review, published papers were retrieved based on a Medline search using the terms, “mandatory reporting” and “organ donation.” In addition, unpublished data from the United Network for Organ Sharing and the Pennsylvania Gift of Life Program were reviewed.

Principal findings

There has been no demonstrable effect of mandatory reporting of “imminent” death independent of educational activities on numbers of organ donors or organs transplanted. Furthermore, mandatory reporting of “imminent” death does not meet criteria of an acceptable screening test.


Education of health care providers about eligibility for organ and tissue donation and about whom to report as a potential donor will hopefully lead to identification of more individuals who meet criteria for organ donation and who will go on to donate organs to the many potential recipients.


Organ Donation Brain Death Tissue Donation Organ Procurement Mandatory Reporting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Déclaration obligatoire de mort “imminente” pour identifier des donneurs d’organes : Histoire, controverse et solutions possibles



Revoir l’historique d’une déclaration obligatoire visant à identifier des donneurs d’organes et de tissus potentiels et la controverse autour des termes de mort “imminente” ou “annoncée” et suggérer une solution.


Dans cette revue descriptive, des articles publiés ont été extraits de la base de Medline à partir des termes “mandatory reporting” et “organ donation”. Nous avons aussi passé en revue les données non publiées du United Network for Organ Sharing et du Pennsylvania Gift of Life Program.

Constatations principales

Il n’y a pas d’effet démontrable de la notification obligatoire de mort “imminente”, indépendante des activités pédagogiques, sur le nombre de donneurs d’organes ou d’organes transplantés. De plus, l’obligation de déclarer la mort “imminente” ne répond pas au critère d’un test de dépistage ou d’un procédé de sélection acceptable.


La formation des prestateurs de soins sur l’admissibilité d’un don d’organe et de tissus et sur les gens reconnus comme donneurs potentiels devrait, espérons-le, conduire à l’identification de plus d’individus, répondant aux critères de don d’organe, qui acceptent de faire un don aux nombreux receveurs potentiels.


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Copyright information

© Canadian Anesthesiologists 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program of Critical Care Medicine and Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome SciencesSt. Paul’s Hospital and University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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