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Solid Organ Donation After Death in the United States: Data Driven Messaging to Encourage Potential Donors

Kiran Bambha, Alexandra Shingina, Jennifer L. Dodge, Kevin O’Connor, Sue Dunn, Jennifer Prinz, Mark Pabst, Kathy Nilles, Lena Sibulesky, Scott W. Biggins


US deceased donor solid organ transplantation (dd-SOT) depends upon an individual's/family's altruistic willingness to donate organs after death; however, there is a shortage of deceased organ donors in the United States. Informing individuals of their own lifetime risk of needing dd-SOT could reframe the decision-making around organ donation after death. Using United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) data (2007-2016), this cross-sectional study identified (1) deceased organ donors, (2) individuals waitlisted for dd-SOT (liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, lung, intestine), and (3) dd-SOT recipients. Using US population projections, life tables, and mortality estimates, we quantified probabilities (Pr) of (1) becoming deceased organ donors, (2) needing dd-SOT, and (3) receiving dd-SOT. Lifetime Pr (per 100 000 US population) for males and females of becoming deceased organ donors were 212 and 146, respectively, and of needing dd-SOT were 1323 and 803, respectively. Lifetime Pr of receiving dd-SOT was 50% for males, 48% for females. Over a lifetime, males were 6.2 and females 5.5 times more likely to need dd-SOT than to become deceased organ donors. Organ donation is traditionally contextualized in terms of charity toward others. Our analyses yield a new tool, in the form of quantifying an individual's own likelihood of needing dd-SOT, which may assist with reframing motivations toward deceased donor organ donation.

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