Deceased Organ Donation

The fields of solid organ and vascular composite allograft transplantation are dependent on the availability of donor organs. The transplant candidate waiting list in the United States continues to grow. The American Society of Transplantation (AST) recognizes the decision to donate organ(s) or a portion of an organ, as a truly selfless act, focused on the potential to save the life of another. Moreover, this decision may come at a particularly difficult time (impending death) for family members of a loved one.

The AST supports the promotion and development of organ donor registries, and encourages the public to talk to their physicians and loved ones about end of life issues. The AST encourages its membership to sign up to be an organ donor by signing their organ donor card or by whatever means their state identifies them as an organ donor.

A number of strategies have been implemented to increase the number of organs donated; AST supports these efforts, which include:

  • timely referral,
  • routine notification and mandated choice,
  • donation after circulatory determination of death,
  • computerized donor registries and first person consent donor designation, and
  • efforts to increase organ donation (such as the previous organ donation and transplantation breakthrough collaborative).

However, solving the ongoing shortage of organs will likely require additional innovative interventions. There are at least three additional approaches under consideration that the AST believes require further study and review.

Improved donor management has the potential to result in additional organs for transplantation. However, there are significant impediments (both ethical and logistic) to innovative studies to optimize deceased donor management and organ preservation that might enable advances to become reality. The AST strongly supports working to overcome these hurdles.

In summary, the AST supports the following initiatives:

  • Promotion and development of organ donor registries, and encourages its members and the public to talk to their physicians and loved ones about end of life issues and sign up as organ donors.
  • Continued emphasis on timely referral, routine notification and mandated choice to identify potential organ donors and to maximize donation options for self-designated donors or surviving next of kin.
  • Expansion of programs to encourage first person consent and actionable donor registries.
  • Partnership with other organizations working on organ donation to continuously improve and increase the number of organs available for transplant.
  • Expansion of professional education programs to optimize the use of expanded criteria donors and donation after circulatory determination of death.
  • Increased public recognition of organ donors and their families.
  • Promotion and federal funding of basic science and clinical research initiatives to improve the science of organ donation.

Approved by the AST Board of Directors on December 6, 2012
Revised and approved by the AST Board of Directors, August 12, 2015

Contact:
Shandie Covington, Executive Director, scovington@myast.org; 856-316-0924
Bill Applegate, Director of Government Relations, bill.applegate@bryancave.com; 202-258-4989