ORGAN/TISSUE/BLOOD/BLOOD STEM CELLS DONATION PROCESS

November 1986
March 1993 (reaffirmed)
February 1997 (revised)
November 2000 (revised)
November 2003 (revised)
November 2006 (revised)
November 2009 (revised)
November 2014 (revised)

Statement of the Issue

Medical advances have provided a tremendous opportunity to save and heal lives through organ, tissue, blood and blood stem cells (marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood) transplantation. More than 20,000 lives are saved or healed each year through transplantation but, tragically, thousands more die while waiting for a lifesaving organ. This is because not enough organs are available for the increasing number of people added to the transplant waiting list each year. At any given time, more than 100,000 people in the United States are waiting for a lifesaving or life-changing organ. Despite significant improvements in the donation process in hospitals across the country, the transplant waiting list continues to outpace the number of donors available.

Significant opportunities exist to increase both the proportion of eligible donors who become donors and the number of organs and tissues transplanted per donor. To increase donation and transplantation:

  • Ensure specific hospital procedures are developed in collaboration with affiliated organ and tissue procurement organizations to work with patients and families in honoring patient wishes to become a donor. Successful recovery of organs requires a coordinated approach to discuss donation with family members and significant others, recognizing that in some cases the broader definition of family can include significant others.
  • Provide information to enable the organ procurement organization or referral center to access donor registries and support patient authorization for donation as documented in the registries.
  • Adopt best practices for achieving donation goals designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration and championed by the Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice.
  • Heighten public and professional awareness of the problem and distribute information related to potential solutions.

Though governments, medical professionals, hospitals, organ procurement organizations and insurance companies can provide resources that support donation, only individuals and their families have the ultimate power to offer the gift of life.

Policy Position

The American College of Healthcare Executives believes all healthcare executives should work to increase the supply of available organs, tissues, blood and blood stem cells (marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood) for transplantation. ACHE recognizes donation as a critical component of lifesaving technology and end-of-life decision making and supports voluntary efforts to increase organ, tissue, blood and blood stem cells availability (see related Ethical Policy Statement: “Decisions Near the End of Life”).

As business and community leaders, healthcare executives have the influence and credibility to motivate individuals and families to consider the donation of organs, tissues, blood and blood stem cells. As healthcare professionals, it is part of their responsibility to do everything possible to honor someone’s wishes to be a donor. ACHE encourages its members to actively pursue the following:

Establish Protocols and Information Programs

  • Together with their affiliated organ and tissue procurement organization, establish effective and compassionate protocols for working with patients and their families. Families of dying patients who have not registered as donors should be provided with the information and option to donate. Families of designated donors should be provided with information and support. Many appreciate the opportunity to ease their personal loss with a selfless, giving act and to help their loved ones carry out a lifesaving gift.  
  • Develop strong, ongoing public information and education programs that help people understand the process of organ and tissue donation, the advantages of registering with their state donor registry and the importance of sharing with their families the decision they have reached.
  • Develop strong, ongoing public information and education programs that help people understand the process of blood donation and how to become a potential marrow, peripheral blood stem cells or umbilical cord blood donor.
  • Support efforts to provide access to state donor registries by people in the hospital community.

Encourage Donation

  • Encourage members of the medical community, particularly physicians in the critical care setting, to develop protocols reflecting the best practices in the field to maximize organ, tissue, blood and blood stem cells donation, availability and transplantation.
  • Consider serving as a role model by publicizing their own personal decision to register as an organ and tissue donor, participate in blood drives or join the marrow registry. Healthcare executives can provide leadership in the resolution of this important social problem by encouraging their staff to follow their lead and in coordinating community efforts.
  • Participate in national, state and local government and private-sector initiatives to promote organ, tissue, blood and blood stem cells donation, including enrolling in HRSA’s Workplace Partnership for Life at organdonor.gov, and join thousands of other companies that are promoting donation in the workplace.

The issue of organ, tissue, blood and blood stem cells donation and transplantation reaches beyond the limited availability of these precious resources in the face of growing demand, but one issue is clear: By preserving the option of donation for all patients and families, one’s choice to become a donor is honored and it provides hope for the many waiting for a transplant to save or heal their life. ACHE encourages its members to develop an environment that fosters this opportunity.

Approved by the Board of Governors of the American College of Healthcare Executives on November 10, 2014.

Related Resources

American College of Healthcare Executives Ethical Policy Statement, “Decisions Near the End of Life.”

Health Resources and Services Administration
organdonor.gov
http://bloodcell.transplant.hrsa.gov/

Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance
www.organdonationalliance.org

Donate Life America
www.donatelife.net