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Intensive Care Med. 2004 Jul;30(7):1390-7. Epub 2004 Mar 13.

Identifying the potential organ donor: an audit of hospital deaths.

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  • 1Department of Intensive Care, Austin Hospital, Studley Road, 3084 Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.



To quantify the potential for organ donation in Victoria and identify missed opportunities for organ donation.


Prospective medical record audit of all deaths in 12 Victorian hospitals.


Data on deaths, total potential donors, organ donors and outcome of requests for organ donation were collected. Patients in whom brain death was confirmed or likely to occur and in whom organ donation was not requested (unrealised potential donors) were classified by an independent panel. Rates of organ donation and unrealised donors were determined as a proportion of total potential donors and hospital deaths and the maximal potential organ donor rate was estimated.


Of 5551 deaths, there were 112 potential donors, with 66 requests for organ donation resulting in 39 consents (consent rate of 59%) and 37 organ donors (33% of total potential donors; 0.7% of hospital deaths). Two consented potential donors did not donate due to failed physiological support (5%). There were 46 medically suitable unrealised potential donors; 3 with confirmed brain death. Approximately half of these patients had treatment withdrawn in the intensive care unit and half in the Emergency Department. The estimated maximal potential donor rate was 30 per million population.


The potential for organ donation in Victoria is relatively low compared with previous estimates in Australia and overseas. An increase in the organ donation rate may be possible through increasing consent and the identification and support of potential donors. This would require substantial changes in clinical practice that have resource and ethical implications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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