Abstract

Western Norway has the lowest number of actual deceased organ donors per million inhabitants in Norway. We wished to find the total number of potential donors and donor organs during 2 years at Haukeland University Hospital, the largest hospital in the region, and evaluate where and why potential donors were lost. We evaluated all patients who died at Haukeland University Hospital in 2018-19. We checked if intensive care patients, filling the criteria as organ donors after brain death, became donors, and the reasons why potential donors were lost. We also estimated the number of potential donors after circulatory death. We checked if patients transferred from the intensive care units and patients never admitted to intensive care were potential donors. Location, gender, age, and possible number of organs were registered. Of 1453 in-hospital deaths, 20 brain-dead patients became actual donors. One brain-dead and two other potential donors, one of them discharged to a bed ward, were not evaluated at the intensive care units. Relatives refused in five patients. Three fulfilled the Norwegian criteria from 2021 as organ donors after circulatory death. Ten potential donors after brain death were never admitted to intensive care and died on neurological or neurosurgical wards. If all potential organ donors were realised, the number of donors would double. The number of transplanted organs would increase less, as organs used per donor would drop from 3.50 to 2.90. Our study cannot explain the low number of donors in our region compared with the rest of Norway. If all potential donations were implemented, the number of actual donors would double. Patients dying outside the intensive care units represent the largest potential source for extra donors, maximally increasing the number of donors by 42%, high-quality livers 44% and kidneys 18%. Introducing organ donation after circulatory death may increase the number of donors by 15% and the number of high-quality livers and kidneys by 12%.

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