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Specialist training can double consent rates for child organ donation

Child organ donation rates are lower than those for adults but the presence of a specialist nurse during consent discussions can increase rates.

Child organ donation rates are lower than those for adults, according to recently published figures. However, rates of consent are higher if specialist nurses are involved in the discussion with family members about donation.

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Although specialist nurses often had limited experience with children and young people and ‘struggled to develop productive relationships with paediatric services’ child organ donation in some cases doubled with a specialist nurse present.

The article, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, reported that consent for child organ donation in 2015-2016 was at at 57.6% for donation after brain death (DBD) and 31.8% and donation after circulatory definition of death (DCD).

For a donation to take place an organ donation team should be contacted so a full assessment can be made. Rates of referral of potential DBD and DCD donors from paediatric intensive care units were 85.8% and 71.8%, compared with 96.4% and 83% for potential donors of all ages.

Reasons for the organ donation team not being brought in, included, ‘not identified as a potential donor/organ donation not considered’ as well as ‘medical contraindications’.

The article recognises that families not giving consent is the ‘biggest obstacle’ to organ donation from children. Reasons for not donating included, ‘family did not believe in donation’ as well as it going against religious beliefs.

The authors suggest education and training involving role play with actors to help healthcare professionals acquire the skills to manage the communication process involved in child organ donation.

Hawkins K, Scales A, Murphy P et al (2017) Current status of paediatric and neonatal organ donation in the UK. Archives of disease in childhood. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2017-313466  


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