Research Study Shows an increase in Organ donation in Irish PICUs over the last 11 years

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Research Study Shows an increase in Organ Donation in Irish PICUs over the last 11 years


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The number of organs harvested for transplants from children who die in paediatric intensive care units has increased over the last 11 years according to a new research study published in the Irish Medical Journal. 

The study titled, ‘An Audit of Paediatric Organ and Tissue Donation inIreland’ was carried out by the departments of Anaesthesia and Critical Care Medicine in Crumlin and Temple St., in conjunction with Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland and Trinity College Dublin found that from 2007 - 2018, 36 infants and children ranging in age from one day of life to 15 years of age donated organs and/or tissue heart valves for transplantation. This represents a donation rate of 2.9 per million population of children in Ireland whereas in the US donation rates are 1.2 per million population of children.

Dr Suzanne Crowe, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, PICU, CHI, at Crumlin said that the pattern of increase in organ donation seen over the period of time examined was multifactorial. “This increase is due to various reasons including specific education sessions on organ donation for staff and improvements in consultant staffing in PICUs as well as more awareness of organ donation among consultants.

There is also an increased awareness among the public of the need for organ donation and transplantation as a result of advocacy groups and the support of the media. There is some evidence that discussion in the media may influence parental decisions to donate.”  

The study stated that, in general organs are donated after death has been confirmed using neurological criteria to diagnose brainstem death (BSD). Donation of organs can also occur in certain circumstances after death has been confirmed using circulatory criteria (DCD).

“DCD can be considered in a child who is expected to die shortly after withdrawal of life sustaining treatment in the PICU. Given the increasing gap between the number of organs required for transplantation and the number available, this is a category that could potentially be expanded to increase the overall number of paediatric donors over the next decade.

Two of the most frequently demanded organs in children are kidneys and liver. Organs that can be donated after DCD include kidneys, liver, lungs and small bowel. Survival rates of recipients of organs from DCD donors are comparable to recipients of organs from BSD donors” it concluded.