Optimizing Neonatal Organ Donations

Dr Joe Brierley Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Ormond Street, London WC1N 3JH, UKMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Joe Brierley
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
Ormond Street, London WC1N 3JH, UK


MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Brierley: In the UK babies under 2-months of age cannot be verified as having died using ‘neurological criteria,’ due to national guidelines; whereas in North America, Australasia and other European countries his is possible. Because of this no organ donation from those under 2-months occurs in the UK contributing to the lack organs for small children who could benefit from such lifesaving interventions.

Our study finds that if the rules were changed to be compatible with other countries their would be a significant yield of organs from one specialist children’s hospital, and likely to be many more nationally.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

 Dr. Brierley:  Our study showed that of 84 infants dying over the 6.5-year period: 45 were potential donors (34 after circulatory definition of death, 11 possible neurological determination of death).

Given an annual UK rate of 40-50 deceased donors under 19-years annually there is a significant potential to impact on this from one specialist children’s hospital NICU. Other factors such as parental consent rates, organ suitability and retrieval factors are also key factors.

MedicalResearch.com:  What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Brierley:  Reconsideration of current infant UK death verification guidelines is required to allow parents the opportunity of donation. Mandatory training in organ donation for neonatal teams should also be introduced.

The families of dying babies ought to given this option to help other people during this most tragic of times for times. For some babies this remains their only option at survival and archaic medical guidelines cannot be permitted to prevent this.

MedicalResearch.com:  What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Brierley:  Similar studies on neonatal organ donation – both in other UK units, and in other countries – would be helpful to compare and optimize practice in this under-researched area.


The potential for neonatal organ donation in a children’s hospital,
Archives of Disease in Childhood, Online First, DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2013-304803