BACKGROUND: Refusal to consent to organ donation is an important cause of the persisting gap between the number of potential organ donors and effectuated donors. In the Netherlands, organ donors include both uncontrolled donors: donors who die unexpectedly after cardiac death (DCD), after failed resuscitation and donors in whom death can be expected and donors after brain death, and controlled DCD donors: those who die after the withdrawal of treatment. Different donor type implies a different setting in which relatives are requested to consent to organ donation. It is unknown whether the setting influences the eventual decision for donation or not. Therefore, we compared the consent rate in potential donors who died unexpectedly (UD group) and in whom death was expected. METHODS: A total of 523 potential organ donors between 2003 and 2011 in the 715-bed Maastricht University Medical Centre, the Netherlands were included. Both the patients' registration in the national donor register (DR) and the relatives' refusal rate in the two groups were retrospectively assessed using data from the donation application database. RESULTS: There were 109 unexpected and 414 expected potential donors The potential donors in the UD group were younger (mean age 52 versus 55 years, P = 0.032) and more often male (68 versus 52%, P = 0.003). There were no significant differences in registration in the DR between the groups. The relatives' consent rate in non-registered potential donors, or those who mandated the relatives for that decision, was higher in the UD group (53 versus 29%, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Less than 50% of the potential donors were registered in the national DR. Therefore, the relatives have an important role in the choice for organ donation. The relatives of potential donors who died unexpectedly consented more often to donation than those in whom death was expected.
- organ donation
- REFUSAL RATES