Neonatal donation provides a rare opportunity to parents who receive a devastating medical diagnosis that their baby will not survive or have a meaningful quality of life. In moments of heartbreaking tragedy, Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) and their hospital partners are uniquely positioned to provide grieving families with hope and a sense of purpose through the donation of neonatal organs, tissue and eyes for transplant and medical research/therapies.
Neonatal Opportunities for Research
In addition to the use of the neonate gifts listed below, researchers are monitoring organ and cell development in many ways for the advancement of medicine and medical therapies to prevent or, at least, improve the management of common diseases.
Neonatal Opportunities for Donation
The opportunity for donation in all areas is contingent on the patient meeting specific criteria based on the type of donation, size of the newborn, and potential needs. Donation after Neurological Determination of Death is rare in the neonate population for numerous reasons including the varied guidelines for declaration, the two required examinations 24 hours apart that must also include an observation period, and the fact that the cause of irreversible brain injury must be known to ensure that any conditions that can interfere with interpreting Brain Death are excluded. Donation after Circulatory Determination of Death is only applicable in cases where mechanical ventilator support is provided, and parents elect to withdraw life sustaining treatment.
- There is an anticipated family meeting to discuss End of Life Care, Palliative Care Goals, or Withdrawal of Life Sustaining Treatments.
- The family mentions donation.
- There is potential for brain death examination and/or declaration.
The content of this issue is based on a webinar presentation by Schawnte’ Williams-Taylor, MSML, RN, CCRN, CPTC (Director Family Care, LifeGift, Houston, TX) and Karen E Johnson, MD (Associate Professor of Pediatrics; Director, Perinatal-Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PPACT), Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, TX). A special thanks to Schawnte’ and Dr. Johnson for their contributions to this in-service.