Towards a framework for organ donation in the UK

Br J Anaesth. 2012 Jan:108 Suppl 1:i56-67. doi: 10.1093/bja/aer402.


Implementation of the recommendations from the Organ Donation Taskforce has introduced for the first time into the UK a nationwide framework for deceased donation. This framework is based, in principle, upon a conviction that donation should be viewed as part of end-of-life care and that the actions often necessary to facilitate it become justified when donation is recognized to be consistent with the wishes and interests of a dying patient. The implementation of the Taskforce recommendations across the complex landscape of acute hospital care in the UK represents a challenging programme of change management that has three more or less distinct phases. This programme has involved first creating and communicating the Taskforce's vision for donation in the UK, secondly introducing the structural elements of this new framework into hospital practice, and finally creating the environment in which these new elements can deliver the overall programme goals. Implementation has focused heavily upon areas of practice where significant opportunities to increase donor numbers exist. It is recognized that the greatest challenge is to overcome the societal and clinical behaviours and beliefs that currently create barriers to donation. Although national audit data may point to some of these areas of practice, international comparisons suggest that differences in approach to the care of patients with catastrophic brain injury may have a profound influence on the size of the potential donor pool.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees
  • Humans
  • Organ Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • State Medicine / organization & administration
  • Terminal Care / organization & administration
  • Tissue Donors / supply & distribution
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / organization & administration*
  • United Kingdom