Ethics| Volume 63, ISSUE 5, P702-708, November 2022

Increasing Solid Organ Donation: A Role for Emergency Physicians



      More than 100,000 Americans with failing organs await transplantation, mostly from dead donors. Yet only a fraction of patients declared dead by neurological criteria (DNC) become organ donors.


      Emergency physicians (EPs) can improve solid organ donation in the following ways: providing perimortem critical care support to potential organ donors, promptly notifying organ procurement organizations (OPOs), asking neurocritical care specialists to evaluate selected emergency department patients for death based on established neurologic criteria, participating in research to advance these developments, implementing automatic OPO notification technologies, and educating the professional and lay communities about organ donation and transplantation, including exploration of opt-out (presumed consent) organ recovery policies.


      With future improvements in organ preservation and DNC assessment, EPs may become even more involved in the donation process. EPs should support and engage in efforts to promote organ donation and transplantation.


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