The Alliance

Spotlight Series

The executive insight series is designed for healthcare senior executives. These brief, bi-annual issues focus on topics relevant to top-tier hospital leadership. For each topic, you can find related references, resources, and tools.

Spotlight Series Past Issues

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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.

Honoring the Gift of Life through Neonatal Donation

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.

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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.

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A timely referral to the local OPO is an important part of stewarding the gift of life through Neonatal Donation. Referring Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) should contact their local OPO if:

  • 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.

*To find your local OPO and learn more about Organ & Tissue Donation, click here

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.

Helpful Resources

  • Stiers J, Aguayo C, Siatta A, Presson AP, Perez R, DiGeronimo R. Potential and Actual Neonatal Organ and Tissue Donation After Circulatory Determination of Death. JAMA Pediatr. 2015 Jul;169(7):639-45. doi: 10.1001/ jamapediatrics. 2015.0317.
  • Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services.
  • Williams L, Kennedy K and Boss RD. The decision to donate: helping families make meaning during neonatal loss. In response to: anencephalic organ donation after cardiac death: practicalities and ethics – a case report. Journal of Perinatology (2015) 35, 777-778.
  • Sarnaik A. Neonatal and Pediatric Organ Donation: Ethical Perspectives and Implications for Policy; Front. Pediatr., 17 November 2015
  • Ahmad MU, Farrell RM, Weise KL. Neonatal organ donation: Ethical insights and policy implications; Journal of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, 2019, June 25. doi: 10.3233/ NOM-1850
  • Lechner B. Perspective: Of Tragedies and Miracles – Neonatal Organ Donation; 2018) Neonatal Organ Donation. N Engl J Med 2018; 379:2089-2091 DOI: 10.1056/ NEJMp1809147
  • (2019) Neonatal Organ Donation. N Engl J Med 380:8, 797-798.
  • International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine (IIAM)

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A Special Thanks to This Series’ Contributors

Corey Bryant
About the Editor |
Corey Bryant

Corey Bryant brings nearly 15 years of communications experience to The Alliance, having served in communications and public relations roles for Disney Parks and Resorts, Disney Cruise Line and TransLife (now OurLegacy), the OPO serving East Central Florida. He has also been an active board member of Donate Life Florida, having served as state team leader for Driver License Outreach. Corey is a proud alum of The University of Alabama and serves on the board of directors for Come Out With Pride Orlando as well as Five Horizons Health Services, a not-for-profit organization providing access to progressive HIV testing, prevention and LGBT+ focused healthcare throughout West Alabama and East Mississippi.

Deanna Fenton
About the Editor |
Deanna Fenton

Deanna is a knowledgeable and versatile professional with diverse experiences in healthcare, client relations, marketing, project management and demonstrated skills in leadership and advocacy. Prior to joining The Alliance, she worked in Hospital Development at her local OPO in the state of New Jersey where she served as the clinical liaison to a number of Level 1 Trauma & Neuroscience centers as well as community hospitals. Her personal connection as a donor family and friend fuels her passion to support her colleagues across the donation-transplantation continuum through the development of valuable educational resources that ultimately boost performance and improve outcome measures. Deanna holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor degree in Public Health from Montclair State University. In her spare time, Deanna enjoys visiting vineyards, spending time with her family, and traveling in hopes of visiting all seven wonders of the world.

Advancing All.

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