Validation of the factors influencing family consent for organ donation in the UK

Validation of the factors influencing family consent for organ donation in the UK
Original Article
M. K. Curtis A. R. Manara S. Madden  C. Brown  S. Duncalf  D. Harvey  A. Tridente  D. Gardiner
Anaesthesia, 16 April 2021
Between 2013 and 2019, there was an increase in the consent rate for organ donation in the UK from 61% to 67%, but this remains lower than many European countries. Data on all family approaches (16,896) for donation in UK intensive care units or emergency departments between April 2014 and March 2019 were extracted from the referral records and the national potential donor audit held by NHS Blood and Transplant. Complete data were available for 15,465 approaches. Consent for donation after brain death was significantly higher than for donation after circulatory death, 70% (4260/6060) vs. 60% (5645/9405), (OR 1.58, 95%CI 1.47–1.69). Patient ethnicity, religious beliefs, sex and socio‐economic status, and knowledge of a patient’s donation decision were strongly associated with consent (p < 0.001). These factors should be addressed by medium‐ to long‐term strategies to increase community interventions, encouraging family discussions regarding donation decisions and increasing registration on the organ donor register. The most readily modifiable factor was the involvement of an organ donation specialist nurse at all stages leading up to the approach and the approach itself. If no organ donation specialist nurse was present, the consent rates were significantly lower for donation after brain death (OR 0.31, 95%CI 0.23–0.42) and donation after cardiac death (OR 0.26, 95%CI 0.22–0.31) compared with if a collaborative approach was employed. Other modifiable factors that significantly improved consent rates included less than six relatives present during the formal approach; the time from intensive care unit admission to the approach (less for donation after brain death, more for donation after cardiac death); family not witnessing neurological death tests; and the relationship of the primary consenter to the patient. These modifiable factors should be taken into consideration when planning the best bespoke approach to an individual family to discuss the option of organ donation as an end‐of‐life care choice for the patient.

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