A Comparison of the Request Process and Outcomes in Adult and Pediatric Organ Donation

Laura A Siminoff, Anthony J Molisani, Heather M Traino
Pediatrics 2015, 136 (1): e108-14

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Although existing studies suggest that factors affecting families' decisions regarding pediatric organ donation mirror those for adult patients, health professionals working in this area maintain that pediatric and adult decision-makers differ in significant ways. This study compared the request process, experiences, and authorization decisions between family decision-makers (FDMs) of adult and pediatric donors and nondonors.

METHODS: Perceptions of the donation request were collected via telephone interviews with 1601 FDMs approached by staff from 9 US organ procurement organizations (OPOs). Authorization regarding donation (ie, authorized/refused) was obtained from FDM reports and verified by using OPO records. Tests of association were used to estimate differences between FDMs of adult and pediatric patients. A logistic regression analysis was conducted to identify variables predicting FDM authorization.

RESULTS: FDMs of children were significantly more likely to authorize donation than were FDMs of adults (89.7% vs 83.2%; χ(2) = 6.2, P = .01). Differences were found between pediatric and adult families' initial feelings toward donation, donation-related topics discussed, communication behaviors and techniques used, perceptions of the request, and receipt and preference of grief information. The likelihood of FDM authorization increased with the number of topics discussed and communication skills employed during requests. Authorization was not predicted by patient age (ie, adult versus pediatric).

CONCLUSIONS: FDMs of children are willing to donate and experience no more psychological distress from the request for donation than do FDMs of adults. Communication emerged as a critical factor of family authorization, reinforcing its importance in requests for donation.

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