Emerg Med J 30:226-231 doi:10.1136/emermed-2012-201135
  • Original article

Are the public ready for organ donation after out of hospital cardiac arrest?

  1. Margaret MacDougall3
  1. 1College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Emergency Medicine Research Group Edinburgh (EMeRGE), Department of Emergency Medicine, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh Medical School, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Matthew James Reed, Emergency Department, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 51 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4SA, UK; mattreed1{at}
  1. Contributors MJR conceived the study. MJR, CB and MMD designed the study. CB undertook data collection. MJR and CB analysed the data and all authors drafted the manuscript. MJR takes responsibility for the paper as a whole.

  • Accepted 3 March 2012
  • Published Online First 13 April 2012


Objective To assess Emergency Department (ED) relatives' and patients' opinions on: (1) discussing organ donation (OD) with relatives soon after ED death after cardiac arrest and (2) acceptability of organ preservation procedures both before and after discussion with relatives.

Methods Questionnaire study; convenience sample.

Results 200 questionnaires were completed. 37.5% of participants were male subjects; mean age was 40.4 (SD 16.9; range 15–85) years. There was no difference in the number willing to discuss OD after brainstem death in intensive care unit compared with circulatory death in the ED (72% vs 72%; p=0.146). The majority were willing to discuss OD soon after ED death after cardiac arrest (106; 54%). 41 (21%) were not willing and 43 (22%) had no strong views (n=198). Organ preservation procedures (groin tube insertion, continuation of mechanical cardiopulmonary resuscitation and continuation of ventilator) were acceptable to between 48% and 57% of respondents if performed before discussion with family increasing to an acceptability of between 64% and 69% after discussion with family. One in four respondents felt these procedures were not acceptable regardless of the timing of discussion with family and some felt these procedures were more acceptable if the patient was a registered organ donor. 122 (61%) patients wished to donate their organs after death but only 59 (30%) were registered donors.

Conclusions (1) The majority of patients and their relatives are not averse to OD being discussed shortly after ED death. (2) Organ preservation procedures are acceptable to many. Prior discussion and prior organ donor registration may improve acceptability.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The ethics approval was provided by Lothian Regional Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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