Background: Despite recent public awareness campaigns, the rate of organ and tissue donorship in the United States remains low. It is unknown what the rate of tissue and organ donorship is in patients suffering out-of hospital cardiac arrest (OOHCA).
Objectives: To descriptively report the rate of organ and tissue donorship and the demographic characteristics of donors using data abstracted from a prospective, multicenter, controlled clinical trial in OOHCA patients.
Methods: Organ and tissue donor status (and type of organ or tissue, if applicable) was prospectively abstracted from the medical record of patients enrolled in a randomized, controlled, multicenter clinical trial. The frequency of donation and number of donations per donor were calculated. Donors were stratified by age
group (18–34; 35–49; 50–64; >65 yrs) to determine which group accounted for the highest number of donors, as well as the highest number of organs and tissues donated.
Results: Organ and tissue donor data were abstracted from 1239 patients with an OOHCA between October 2005 and July 2009 who were brought to a hospital and died in the emergency department or following admission to the hospital. A total of 85 patients became organ or tissue donors (6.9%), resulting in 234 total organ or tissue donations (organ = 39.3%, tissue = 60.7%). Fifty-one donors (58.4%) donated more than one organ or tissue. The most frequently donated organ was the eye (43/92; 46.7%), followed by the kidney (16/92; 17.4%) and the liver (12/92; 13.0%). There were also 7 heart donations (7/92; 8%). The most frequent tissue donation was bone (42/142; 29.6%), followed by connective tissue (37/142; 26.1%) and skin (25/142; 17.6%). The mean age of donors was 56.08±13.85 years (range = 18 –81), with patients between the ages of 50–64 years accounting for 47% of all donors and 50% of the total number of organ or tissue donations.
Conclusion: In this OOHCA population, the frequency of organ and tissue donation was 6.9%. While not the primary intent of any OOHCA resuscitation effort, the secondary benefit of harvesting organs and tissues for donation provides a meaningful and important mechanism to increase donation overall.