Summary of Spanish recommendations on intensive care to facilitate organ donation

Am J Transplant. 2019 Jun;19(6):1782-1791. doi: 10.1111/ajt.15253. Epub 2019 Feb 22.


With the aim of consolidating recommendations about the practice of initiating or continuing intensive care to facilitate organ donation (ICOD), an ad hoc working group was established, comprising 10 intensivists designated by the Spanish Society of Intensive Care and Coronary Units (SEMICYUC) and the Spanish National Transplant Organization (ONT). Consensus was reached in all recommendations through a deliberative process. After a public consultation, the final recommendations were institutionally adopted by SEMICYUC, ONT, and the Transplant Committee of the National Health-Care System. This article reports on the resulting recommendations on ICOD for patients with a devastating brain injury for whom the decision has been made not to apply any medical or surgical treatment with a curative purpose on the grounds of futility. Emphasis is made on the systematic referral of these patients to donor coordinators, the proper assessment of the likelihood of brain death and medical suitability, and on transparency in communication with the patient's family. The legal and ethical aspects of ICOD are addressed. ICOD is considered a legitimate practice that offers more patients the opportunity of donating their organs upon their death and helps to increase the availability of organs for transplantation.

Keywords: clinical decision-making; critical care/intensive care management; donation after brain death (DBD); donation after circulatory death (DCD); donors and donation; ethics and public policy; health services and outcomes research; organ procurement and allocation.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Death
  • Brain Injuries
  • Communication
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Critical Care / standards*
  • Death
  • Decision Making
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Organ Transplantation / methods*
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Societies, Medical
  • Spain
  • Terminal Care / methods
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / ethics
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / methods*