Importance: The option of donating organs after euthanasia is not well known. Assessment of the results of organ transplants with grafts donated after euthanasia is essential to justify the use of this type of organ donation.
Objectives: To assess the outcomes of liver transplants (LTs) with grafts donated after euthanasia (donation after circulatory death type V [DCD-V]), and to compare them with the results of the more commonly performed LTs with grafts from donors with a circulatory arrest after the withdrawal of life-supporting treatment (type III [DCD-III]).
Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective multicenter cohort study analyzed medical records and LT data for most transplant centers in the Netherlands and Belgium. All LTs with DCD-V grafts performed from the start of the donation after euthanasia program (September 2012 for the Netherlands, and January 2005 for Belgium) through July 1, 2018, were included in the analysis. A comparative cohort of patients who received DCD-III grafts was also analyzed. All patients in both cohorts were followed up for at least 1 year. Data analysis was performed from September 2019 to December 2019.
Exposures: Liver transplant with either a DCD-V graft or DCD-III graft.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcomes were recipient and graft survival rates at years 1, 3, and 5 after the LT. Secondary outcomes included postoperative complications (early allograft dysfunction, hepatic artery thrombosis, and nonanastomotic biliary strictures) within the first year after the LT.
Results: Among the cohort of 47 LTs with DCD-V grafts, 25 organ donors (53%) were women and the median (interquartile range [IQR]) age was 51 (44-59) years. Among the cohort of 542 LTs with DCD-III grafts, 335 organ donors (62%) were men and the median (IQR) age was 49 (37-57) years. Median (IQR) follow-up was 3.8 (2.1-6.3) years. In the DCD-V cohort, 30 recipients (64%) were men, and the median (IQR) age was 56 (48-64) years. Recipient survival in the DCD-V cohort was 87% at 1 year, 73% at 3 years, and 66% at 5 years after LT. Graft survival among recipients was 74% at 1 year, 61% at 3 years, and 57% at 5 years after LT. These survival rates did not differ statistically significantly from those in the DCD-III cohort. Incidence of postoperative complications did not differ between the groups. For example, the occurrence of early allograft dysfunction after the LT was found to be 13 (31%) in the DCD-V cohort and 219 (45%) in the DCD-III cohort. The occurrence of nonanastomotic biliary strictures after the LT was found to be 7 (15%) in the DCD-V cohort and 83 (15%) in the DCD-III cohort.
Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this cohort study suggest that LTs with DCD-V grafts yield similar outcomes as LTs with DCD-III grafts; therefore, grafts donated after euthanasia may be a justifiable option for increasing the organ donor pool. However, grafts from these donations should be considered high-risk grafts that require an optimal donor selection process and logistics.
There remain serious doubts that "brain death," or death determined by neurological criteria, is equivalent to true death of the human person. This informal essay offers several distinctions that may help clarify doubts about this issue.
End-of-life (EOL) care has become an integral part of intensive care medicine and includes the exploration of possibilities for deceased organ and tissue donation. Donation physicians are specialist doctors with expertise in EOL processes encompassing organ and tissue donation, who contribute significantly to improvements in organ and tissue donation services in many countries around the world. Donation physicians are usually also intensive care physicians, and thus they may be faced with the dual obligation of caring for dying patients and their families in the intensive care unit (ICU), whilst at the same time ensuring organ and tissue donation is considered according to best practice. This dual obligation poses specific ethical challenges that need to be carefully understood by clinicians, institutions and health care networks. These obligations are complementary and provide a unique skillset to care for dying patients and their families in the ICU. In this paper we review current controversies around EOL care in the ICU, including the use of palliative analgesia and sedation specifically with regards to withdrawal of cardiorespiratory support, the usefulness of the so-called doctrine of double effect to guide ethical decision-making, and the management of potential or perceived conflicts of interest in the context of dual professional roles.
BACKGROUND: South Africa (SA) has very low and unchanging organ donation rates. A key point in the pathway of organ donation is obtaining informed consent from the family, which is necessary before organ donation can proceed. There is no published SA research on the consent rate and factors that influence this.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the number of requests for consent and factors influencing this process in the SA context.
METHODS: A prospective descriptive study was performed of all requests to families for organ donation in Western Cape Province, SA, by Groote Schuur Hospital (state sector), Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital (state sector) and Netcare (private sector) transplant co-ordinators from 1 May 2017 to 1 May 2018 to describe factors influencing consent rates.
RESULTS: The 6 co-ordinators (3 state sector and 3 private sector) recorded data of 83 consecutive families approached in 16 hospitals over the 1-year period. Consent to organ donation was granted for 23 family requests (n=18 (state sector); n=5 (private sector)). The number of families approached was greater in the state sector (n=74) than in the private sector (n=9). The overall consent rate was 27.7% (24.3% (state sector); 55.5% (private sector)). The majority of referrals came from trauma and emergency units (n=55; 66.3%) and very few from intensive care units (n=25; 30.1%). Immediate fluid resuscitation was required in 56 (67.5%) potential donors. The majority of families (n=74; 89.2%) were receptive to the organ donation request, independent of their ultimate decision regarding donation. The main reason given for refusing to consent was that it was against their religion (n=21) or culture (n=18).
CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that the number of families approached for consent to organ donation were low in the Western Cape (lower in the private sector), with a low consent rate (lower in the state sector). Donor management by clinical teams needs to be ongoing and active during the consent process. Consent discussions (and public awareness initiatives) need to be sensitive to and deal with religious and cultural reservations about organ donation.
La pratique de prélèvement d’organe selon la procédure dite Maastricht III (MIII) est l’objet de discussions et de controverses éthiques. Au premier plan de ces craintes, est celle de la dérive utilitariste privilégiant une éthique sociétale à une éthique individuelle. On peut proposer néanmoins un certain nombre de garde-fous éthiques discutés dans cet article et dont les principaux sont les suivants : le MIII ne doit pas être la solution unique face à la pénurie de greffons. Les décisions de limitation et arrêt thérapeutique doivent être strictement appliquées dans le cadre de la loi Claeys Leonetti sans interférence avec l’équipe de prélèvement ; un consentement explicite est la garantie du respect de la volonté du donneur ; les procédures de sédation accompagnant l’arrêt des traitements de support vitaux doivent être identiques qu’il y ait ou non de prélèvement MIII.
Peu d’analyses des premiers résultats ont été publiées sur la procédure de don d’organes dite Maastricht 3 (M3), mise en place en 2014 en France. Pourtant, cette procédure est soumise à un conflit d’intérêt intérieur pour le médecin qui devra éclaircir son désir d’être utile aux autres par le biais de la promotion du don d’organes sans que cela n’influence sa décision d’arrêt des traitements de l’éventuel patient donneur. Ceci, alors même que les moyens d’établir un pronostic sont souvent limités. Toute modification des pratiques liées à la fin de vie au cours de l’instauration de la procédure M3 – telles la politique d’admission des patients en réanimation, l’administration de la sédation ou encore la procédure de séparation du ventilateur – peut témoigner d’une volonté de maximisation de l’utilité à court terme de cette procédure. Le consentement des proches peut lui aussi se retrouver biaisé par une forte désirabilité sociale ou par un sentiment de culpabilité, et une évaluation sereine ne sera pas réalisée du fait de la rapidité de la procédure. L’éclairage des tensions philosophiques entre les pensées conséquentialistes et déontologiques, l’importance d’un débat dans chaque structure, une indication très restrictive aux patients anoxiques les plus graves, un contrôle a posteriori indépendant, font partie des solutions proposées dans cet article pour réduire ces problèmes. Alors que la « pénurie » actuelle liée au don d’organes pourrait être résolue par un meilleur taux d’acceptabilité de prélèvements de patients en état de mort encéphalique, se pose finalement la question d’un dépassement irrémédiable des limites éthiques qui garantissent le sens premier de l’engagement des professionnels auprès de leurs patients.
Controlled donation after circulatory death (cDCD) occurs after a decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatment (WLST) and subsequent family approach and approval for donation. We currently lack data on factors that impact the decision-making process on WLST and whether time from admission to family approach, influences family consent rates. Such insights could be important in improving the clinical practice of potential cDCD donors. In a prospective multicenter observational study, we evaluated the impact of timing and of the clinical factors during the end-of-life decision-making process in potential cDCD donors. Characteristics and medication use, of 409 potential cDCD donors admitted to the intensive care units (ICU), were assessed. End-of-life decision-making was made after a mean time of 97 h after ICU admission and mostly during the day. Intracranial hemorrhage or ischemic stroke and a high APACHE IV score were associated with a short decision-making process. Preserved brainstem reflexes, high Glasgow Coma Scale scores or cerebral infections were associated with longer time to decision-making. Our data also suggest that the organ donation request could be made shortly after the decision to stop active treatment and consent rates were not influenced by day- or nighttime or by the duration of the ICU stay.
In the half-century history of clinical practice of diagnosing brain death, informed consent has seldom been considered until very recently. Like many other medical diagnoses and ordinary death pronouncements, it has been taken for granted for decades that brain death is diagnosed and death is declared without consideration of the patient’s advance directives or family’s wishes. This essay examines the pros and cons of using informed consent before the diagnosis of brain death from an ethical point of view. As shared decision-making in clinical practice became increasingly indispensable, respect for the patients’ autonomous wishes regarding how to end their lives has a significant role in deciding how death is diagnosed. Brain death, as a fully technologically controlled death, may require a different ethical framework from the old one for traditional cardiac death. With emerging and proliferating options in end-of-life care for those who suffer from catastrophic brain injury, the traditional reasoning that ‘death gives no choice, hence no consent’ requires another examination. Patients facing imminent brain death now have options other than undergoing the diagnostic workup for brain death, such as donation after circulatory death and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment with maximum comfort measures for death with dignity. Nevertheless, just as in the debate over opt-in versus opt-out organ donation policies, informed consent before the diagnosis of brain death faces fierce opposition from consequentialists urging the expansion of the donor pool. This essay examines these objections and provides constructive replies along with a proposal to accommodate this morally required consent.
Introduction: The transplant waiting list exceeds the number of organs available. One means of increasing the organ pool is to broaden potential donors to include those with chronic diseases.
Research Questions: The study tested the effectiveness of using peer mentors to encourage individuals on dialysis to enroll on an organ donor registry.
Design: Dialysis units were pair-matched by size and racial composition and then randomized to one of 2 interventions: meetings with a peer mentor (experimental intervention) or organ donation mailings (control). Peer mentors were trained to discuss organ donation with individuals on dialysis during in-person meetings at dialysis units. The primary outcome was verified registration in the state’s donor registry.
Results: After adjusting for age, gender, race, income, and education and accounting for correlation within the dialysis center, there was a significant intervention effect. Among individuals in the intervention group, the odds of enrolling (verified) on the donor registry were 2.52 times higher than those in the control group.
Discussion: The use of peer mentors to discuss donating organs after death with individuals on dialysis can increase enrollment on a donor registry. Dispelling myths about chronic illness and donation can counter widely held misconceptions and help persons make an informed choice about end-of-life decisions and present an opportunity to increase the number of organs and tissues available for transplant.
Given the need for organs, public organizations use social marketing strategies to increase the number of donors. Their campaigns employ a variety of moral appeals. However, their effects on audiences are unclear. We identified 14 campaigns in Germany from over the last 20 years. Our approach combined a multimodal analysis of categorized posters with a qualitative analysis of responses, collected in interviews or focus groups, of 53 persons who were either skeptical or undecided about organ donation. The combined analyses revealed that the posters failed to motivate laypersons in general to donate, and were even less effective on skeptical or undecided individuals. We explain this in terms of the types of moral messages found on posters and the limits of such social marketing strategies. Furthermore, we discuss certain ethical aspects of organ donation campaigns pertaining to communicating norms and trust in public institutions.
Background: Controlled donation after circulatory death (cDCD) is a major source of organs for transplantation. A potential cDCD donor poses considerable challenges in terms of identification of those dying within the predefined time frame of warm ischemia after withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment (WLST) to circulatory arrest. Several attempts have been made to develop models predicting the time between treatment withdrawal and circulatory arrest. This time window determines whether organ donation can occur and influences the quality of the donated organs. However, the selected patients used for these models were not always restricted to potential cDCD donors (eg, patients with cancer or severe infections were also included). This severely limits the generalizability of those data.
Objective: The objectives of this study are the following: (1) to develop a model predicting time to death within 60 minutes in potential cDCD patients; (2) to validate and update previous prediction models on time to death after WLST; (3) to determine timing and patient characteristics that are associated with prognostication and the decision-making process that leads to initiating end-of-life care; (4) to evaluate the impact of timing of family approach on organ donation approval; and (5) to assess the influence of variation in WLST processes on postmortem organ donor potential and actual postmortem organ donors.
Methods: In this multicenter observational prospective cohort study, all patients admitted to the intensive care unit of 3 university hospitals and 3 teaching hospitals who met the criteria of the cDCD protocol as defined by the Dutch Transplant Foundation were included. The target of enrolment was set to 400 patients. Previously developed models will be refitted in our data set. To further update previous prediction models, we will apply least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) as a tool for efficient variable selection to develop the multivariable logistic regression model.
Results: This protocol was funded in August 2014 by the Dutch Transplant Foundation. We expect to have the results of this study in July 2020. Patient enrolment was completed in July 2018 and data collection was completed in April 2020.
Conclusions: This study will provide a robust multimodal prediction model, based on clinical and physiological parameters, that can predict time to circulatory arrest in cDCD donors. In addition, it will add valuable insight in the process of WLST in cDCD donors and will fill an important knowledge gap in this essential field of health care.
A growing number of people living with HIV/AIDS are participating in HIV cure-related research at the end of life (EOL). Due to the novelty of EOL HIV cure-related research, there is a need to understand how their next-of-kin (NOK) perceive such research. We conducted in-depth interviews with NOK of the Last Gift study participants at the University of California, San Diego. The Last Gift study occurs in the context of the EOL and involves a full body donation. NOK completed two interviews: (1) shortly after the participants' enrollment in the study and (2) following death. We applied thematic analysis to analyze qualitative data. NOK included seven individuals (five males and two females), including two spouses, one ex-partner, one sister, a grandmother/grandfather, and a close friend. Thematic analysis revealed five key themes: (1) NOK viewed the Last Gift program in a positive light and had an accurate overall understanding of the study; (2) NOK identified factors that motivated participants to donate their body to science; (3) NOK identified benefits of the Last Gift program for both the donors and themselves; (4) NOK did not perceive any physical risks or decisional regrets of study but wanted to minimize psychosocial impacts and ensure the dignity of participants at all times; and (5) NOK noted elements that remained essential to the successful implementation of EOL HIV cure-related research, such as early involvement and clear communication. Our study uniquely contributes to increased understanding and knowledge of what is important from the point of view of supportive NOK to ensure successful implementation of EOL HIV cure-related research. More research will be needed to understand perspectives of less supportive NOK.
La transplantation d’organes permet de prolonger et d’améliorer la qualité de vie d’un nombre croissant de patients. Dans le contexte de la pandémie actuelle de l’infection au coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 et de la maladie qui en découle (COVID-19), la communauté de transplantation s’interroge sur le risque encouru par les patients greffés, sur la manière d’assurer un suivi adéquat d’une population à risque, et sur le schéma thérapeutique à adopter en cas de maladie avérée. Dans cet article nous décrivons les connaissances actuelles quant à l’incidence et à l’évolution de l’infection SARS-CoV-2 chez des patients greffés. En accord avec les sociétés de discipline, nous proposons des recommandations de prise en charge thérapeutique, et amenons quelques éléments de réflexion en tenant compte d’une possible limitation des ressources et d’une situation pandémique évolutive.
Spain has been one of the most affected countries by the COVID-19 outbreak. As of 28 April 2020, the number of confirmed cases is 210,773, including 102,548 patients recovered, more than 10,300 admitted to the ICU, and 23,822 deaths, with a global case fatality rate of 11.3%. From the perspective of donation and transplantation, the Spanish system first focused on safety issues, providing recommendations for donor evaluation and testing, and to rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection in potential recipients prior to transplantation. Since the country entered into an epidemiological scenario of sustained community transmission and saturation of intensive care, developing donation and transplantation procedures has become highly complex. Since the national state of alarm was declared in Spain on 13 March 2020, the mean number of donors has declined from 7.2 to 1.2 per day, and the mean number of transplants from 16.1 to 2.1 per day. Increased mortality on the waiting list may become a collateral damage of this terrible pandemic.
In a recent article Joshua James Hatherley argues that, if physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is morally permissible for patients suffering from somatic illnesses, it should be permissible for psychiatric patients as well. He argues that psychiatric disorders do not necessarily impair decision-making ability, that they are not necessarily treatable and that legalising PAS for psychiatric patients would not diminish research and therapeutic interest in psychiatric treatments or impair their recovery through loss of hope. However, by erasing distinction between somatic and psychiatric disorders on those grounds, he also erases distinction between healthy adults and patients (whether somatic or psychiatric) essentially implying that PAS should be available to all, for all reasons or, ultimately no reason. Furthermore, as psychiatric patients are much more likely to be a source of usable organs for transplantation, their broad inclusion would strengthen the link between PAS/euthanasia and organ donation, potentially undermining both as well as diminishing already declining general trust in medical authorities and professionals and public health authorities and activists.
With the emergence of organ donation and donation technology, the previous indivisibility of the human body becomes divisible, and different human organs form a new life subject. With reference to specific case studies in China, a new life, consisting of donated organs from different bodies by donation, can be called "donated life." Donated life is a win-win action between altruism and egoism, that is, to save the lives of others and to regenerate the organs of donors or their relatives. Due to the emergence of this kind of life, traditional social ethics theories based on the marriage-related family find it difficult to difficult to explain the new realities. Thus, new thinking about social ethics is necessary.
In 2015 Robert Veatch published the second edition of his Transplantation ethics, this time together with Lainie Ross. The chapters on postmortem organ procurement distinguish between 'giving' and 'taking' systems, and argue that 'taking' systems may promise a greater yield of organs for transplantation, but inevitably violate a requirement of respect for the deceased's autonomy. That argument has been very influential, and is also representative of a way of thinking that is widespread in the literature and in public debate. In this paper I contend that it is conceptually flawed in a number of important respects. These concern the understanding of both the concept of 'consent' and the requirement of respect for autonomy, the role of the relatives in any procurement system, and the factors that actually determine the extent to which a system respects autonomy, under any interpretation of that requirement.
Implementing uncontrolled donation after circulatory determination of death (uDCDD) in the United States could markedly improve supply of donor lungs for patients in need of transplants. Evidence from US pilot programs suggests families support uDCDD, but only if they are asked permission for using invasive organ preservation procedures prior to initiation. However, non-invasive strategies that confine oxygenation to lungs may be applicable to the overwhelming majority of potential uDCDD donors that have airway devices in place as part of standard resuscitation. We propose an ethical framework for lung uDCDD by: (a) initiating post mortem preservation without requiring prior permission to protect the opportunity for donation until an authorized party can be found; (b) using non-invasive strategies that confine oxygenation to lungs; and (c) maintaining strict separation between the healthcare team and the organ preservation team. Attempting uDCDD in this way has great potential to obtain more transplantable lungs while respecting donor autonomy and family wishes, securing public support, and enabling authorized persons to affirm or cease preservation decisions without requiring evidence of prior organ donation intent. It ensures prioritization of life-saving, the opportunity to allow willing donors to donate, and respect for bodily integrity while adhering to current ethical norms.
PURPOSE: The 3 Wishes Project (3WP) promotes holistic end-of-life care in the intensive care unit (ICU) to honor dying patients, support families, and encourage clinician compassion. Organ donation is a wish that is sometimes made by, or on behalf of, critically ill patients. Our objective was to describe the interface between the 3WP and organ donation as experienced by families, clinicians, and organ donation coordinators.
METHODS: In a multicenter evaluation of the 3WP in 4 Canadian ICUs, we conducted a thematic analysis of transcripts from interviews and focus groups with clinicians, organ donation coordinators, and families of dying or died patients for whom donation was considered.
RESULTS: We analyzed transcripts from 26 interviews and 2 focus groups with 18 family members, 17 clinicians, and 6 organ donation coordinators. The central theme describes the mutual goals of the 3WP and organ donation-emphasizing personhood and agency across the temporal continuum of care. During family decision-making, conversations encouraged by the 3WP can facilitate preliminary discussions about donation. During preparation for donation, memory-making activities supported by the 3WP redirect focus toward personhood. During postmortem family care, the 3WP supports families, including when donation is unsuccessful, and highlights aspirational pursuits of donation while encouraging reflections on other fulfilled wishes.
CONCLUSIONS: Organ donation and the 3WP provide complementary opportunities to engage in value-based conversations during the dying process. The shared values of these programs may help to incorporate organ donation and death into a person's life narrative and incorporate new life into a person's death narrative.
Background: Lung transplant recipients with serious illness may benefit from but rarely receive specialty palliative care (SPC) services. Transplant pulmonologists' views of SPC may be key to understanding SPC utilization but have not been well characterized.
Objectives: (1) To understand how transplant pulmonologists view SPC and decide to refer transplant recipients and (2) to identify unique aspects of lung transplantation that may influence referral decisions.
Design: We conducted semistructured interviews with transplant pulmonologists at nine geographically diverse high-volume North American transplant centers with SPC services. A multidisciplinary team analyzed interview transcripts using constant comparative methods to inductively develop and refine a coding framework related to SPC views and referral decisions.
Results: We interviewed 38 transplant pulmonologists; most (36/38) had referred lung transplant recipients to SPC. Participants described SPC as a medical specialty that aims to improve quality of life and distinguished SPC from hospice care, which was considered end-of-life care. Participants who viewed transplant as a temporary solution (n = 17/38, 45%) described earlier utilization of SPC alongside disease-directed therapies, whereas those who viewed transplant as survival-focused (n = 21/38, 55%) described utilization of SPC after disease-directed therapies were exhausted. Concerns about one-year survival metrics and use of addicting medications for symptom palliation were barriers to referral.
Conclusions: Transplant pulmonologists' SPC referral practices may be related to their views of lung transplantation. Optimizing use of SPC in lung transplantation will require improving communication between transplant pulmonology and SPC to ensure a collaborative effort toward patient-centered goals while addressing unique barriers to SPC referral.