The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

The impact of donor consent mechanism on organ procurement organization performance in the United States

Published:January 05, 2023DOI:



      Lack of donor organ availability represents a major limitation to the success of solid organ transplantation. The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) publishes performance reports of organ procurement organizations (OPO) in the United States, but does not stratify by the mechanism of donor consent, namely first-person authorization (organ donor registry) and next-of-kin authorization. This study aimed to report the trends in deceased organ donation in the United States and assess the regional differences in OPO performance after accounting for the different mechanisms of donor consent.


      The SRTR database was queried for all eligible deaths (2008-2019) which were then stratified based on the mechanism of donor authorization. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to assess the probability of organ donation across OPOs based on specific donor consent mechanisms. Eligible deaths were divided into three cohorts based on probability to donate. Consent rates at the OPO level were calculated for each cohort.


      Organ donor registration among adult eligible deaths in the U.S. increased over time (2008: 10% vs. 2019: 39%, p<0.001), coincident with a decline in next-of-kin authorization rates (2008: 70% vs. 2019: 64%, p<0.001). At the OPO level, increased organ donor registration was associated with lower next-of-kin authorization rates. Among eligible deaths with medium- and low-probability of donation, recruitment was highly variable across OPO's, ranging from 36% to 75% in the medium-probability group (median 54%, IQR 50% - 59%) and 8% and 73% in the low-probability group (median 30%, IQR 17% - 38%).


      Significant variability exists across OPOs in the consent of potentially persuadable donors after adjusting for population demographic differences and the mechanism of consent. Current metrics may not truly reflect OPO performance as they do not account for consent mechanism. There is further opportunity for improvement in deceased organ donation through targeted initiatives across OPOs, modeled after regions with the best performance.



      HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration), OPO (Organ Procurement Organization), OPTN (Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network), SRTR (Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients)
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