State Strategies Have Had Limited Effect On Organ Donations For Transplantation

Paula Chatterjee, MD, MPH Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Harvard Medical School Boston, Interview with:
Paula Chatterjee, MD, MPH
Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Chatterjee: Thousands of patients die every year due to organ shortages. Finding ways to address this public health issue is critical. States have designed a variety of strategies to promote organ donation and transplantation, however we don’t know if any of these strategies have been successful. The goal of our study was to try to figure out which strategies have been most successful in terms of increasing organ donation and transplantation.

We found that states have implemented a wide and creative set of strategies, but unfortunately, it seems that these strategies have had almost no effect on increasing organ donation and transplantation. In states that adopted these strategies compared to those that did not, the rates of donation and transplantation increased at nearly the same rate over the past two decades. The only strategy that seemed to have a small effect was when states created revenue pools dedicated toward organ donation activities.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Chatterjee: We think the main takeaway is that we need new strategies to bridge the gap between the number of people waiting for organs and the number of organ donors in this country. It may be that different populations respond to these strategies differently, and states may need to take a more targeted approach when it comes to promoting organ donation. This may differ greatly from state to state, or even from community to community, but it will likely be important to pursue a granular approach.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Chatterjee: Future work should aim to better identify what exactly is done with state-based revenue pools designed to promote donation. Revenue pools are often made up of voluntary contributions from individuals and groups to fund activities related to donor recruitment (such as community outreach, worksite campaigns, hospital-based interventions). The specific uses of these funds remain unknown. It will be important to understand how much this strategy varies from state-to-state, and whether certain uses of these funds more successful than others. With more information on a local context, we may be better able to identify successful strategies.


Chatterjee P, Venkataramani AS, Vijayan A, Wellen JR, Martin EG. The Effect of State Policies on Organ Donation and Transplantation in the United States. JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 01, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.2194.

[wysija_form id=”3″] Interview with: Paula Chatterjee, MD, MPH, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, & Boston, Massachusetts (2015). State Strategies Have Had Limited Effect On Organ Donations For Transplantation 

Last Updated on June 3, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD