Uncontrolled organ donation following prehospital cardiac arrest: a potential solution to the shortage of organ donors in the United Kingdom?

Keith J. Roberts, Simon Bramhall, David Mayer, Paolo Muiesan


Uncontrolled donation after cardiac death (DCD) could increase the donor pool in the UK. Air ambulance (AA) teams may be well placed to recruit these donors. They cover large geographical areas, have short transfer times and tasked predominantly to life-threatening cases. The potential to recruit from this pool of donors was reviewed. Seventy-five month activity of an AA unit was analysed identifying patients who entered prehospital cardiac arrest (PHCA). Patients over 70 years of age were excluded as were those whose cardiac arrest was unwitnessed. A minimum potential donor pool was estimated based upon patients dying of medical causes. Rates of bystander resuscitation, mechanism of death and patient demographic data were observed. During 10 022 missions 534 patients entered PHCA. A total of 106 patients met inclusion criteria. There were 12 paediatric cases; 39 cases of 17–50 year olds and 55 cases of 50–70 year olds. Medical and traumatic causes of death accounted for 60 and 46 cases respectively. Bystander resuscitation efforts were provided in 47% of cases. A regional AA could contribute to a national uncontrolled DCD programme. Given that there are 31 AA’s in England and Wales, we estimate that there could be a minimum of 300 additional potential donors annually.

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