Improving organ donation rates by modifying the family approach process

Aileen Ebadat, Carlos V R Brown, Sadia Ali, Tim Guitierrez, Eric Elliot, Sarah Dworaczyk, Carie Kadric, Ben Coopwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to identify steps during family approach for organ donation that may be modified to improve consent rates of potential organ donors. Methods: Retrospective study of our local organ procurement organization (OPO) database of potential organ donors. Modifiable variables involved in the family approach of potential organ donors were collected and included race and sex of OPO representative, individual initiating approach discussion with family (RN or MD vs. OPO), length of donation discussion, use of a translator, and time of day of approach. Results: Of 1137 potential organ donors, 661 (58%) consented and 476 (42%) declined. Consent rates were higher with matched race of donor and OPO representative (66% vs. 52%, p < 0.001), family approach by female OPO representative (67% vs. 56%, p = 0.002), if approach was initiated by OPO representative (69% vs. 49%, p < 0.001), and if consent rate was dependent on time of day the approach occurred: 6:00 am to noon (56%), noon to 6:00 pm (67%), 6:00 pm to midnight (68%), and midnight to 6:00 am (45%), p = 0.04. Family approach that led to consent lasted longer than those declining (67 vs. 43 minutes, p < 0.001). Independent predictors of consent to donation included female OPO representative (odds ratio [OR], 1.7; p = 0.006), approach discussion initiated by OPO representative (OR, 1.9; p = 0.001), and longer approach discussions (OR, 1.02; p < 0.001). The independent predictor of declined donation was the use of a translator (OR, 0.39; p = 0.01). Conclusion: Variables such as race and sex of OPO representative and time of day should be considered before approaching a family for organ donation. Avoiding translators during the approach process may improve donation rates. Education for health care providers should reinforce the importance of allowing OPO representatives to initiate the family approach for organ donation. Level of Evidence: Epidemiologic study, level IV. Therapeutic study, level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1473-1475
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Trauma
  • brain death
  • critical care
  • ethics
  • organ donation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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