Background: The disparity between the number of people awaiting organ transplantation and the number of organs available has become a public health crisis. As many as 25% of potential donors are lost as a result of cardiovascular collapse (CVC) before organ harvest. A policy of aggressive donor management (ADM) may decrease the number of cadaveric donors lost as a result of CVC.
Methods: Retrospective analysis of potential brain-dead donors evaluated from January 1995 to December 2003 at nine American College of Surgeons-verified Level I trauma centers covered by a regional organ procurement agency. One center (Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center [LAC]) had an ADM protocol in place instituted January 1999; the remaining eight centers with no ADM protocol were grouped as Center A. The incidence of CVC and organ donation demographics were compared between centers and within LAC before (LAC-Pre) and after (LAC-Post) adoption of ADM. ADM consists of early identification of potential organ donors, a dedicated team that provides medical management, and aggressive fluid resuscitation as well as hormone replacement therapy with solumedrol and thyroxin.
Results: The incidence of CVC was significantly higher in LAC-Pre (odds ratio [OR] 15.0, p < 0.001) and Center A (OR 5.8, p < 0.001) compared with LAC-Post. The number of organs harvested per potential donor for LAC-Post (2.4) was significantly higher than LAC-Pre (2.0, p = 0.02) and Center A (2.1, p < 0.01).
Conclusion: An aggressive donor management protocol decreases the number of donors lost as a result of cardiovascular collapse and increases the number of harvested organs per potential donor.