Emergency department organ donation

Solid organ donation from the emergency department – a systematic review

In Featured, Infographics, Medical Concepts by Simon Huang1 Comment

This month CanadiEM is featuring an article from the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine that looks at solid organ donation from the emergency department (ED). Given the shortage of transplant organs in Canada, the ED is one possible site for increased recruitment efforts, as previous studies have shown that patients referred from the ED are more likely to become successful organ donors than those referred from elsewhere in the hospital.​1,2​

A systematic review was conducted by McCallum et al. to better understand solid organ donation in the ED.​3​ Specifically, their study looked at what percentage of successful organ donors come from the ED, and what percentage of potential donors are missed. They also assessed what factors impact organ donation in the ED.

The results are highlighted in our visual abstract. ED patients were found to comprise 4 – 50% of successful organ donors in neurological determination of death (NDD).​3​ By contrast, ED patients comprised 3.6 – 8.9% of successful organ donors in circulatory determination of death (DCD). ED death reviews showed that up to 84% of NDD and 46.2% of DCD were missed as potential organ donors. These were missed due to inaccurate assumptions about inclusion criteria and forgetting to refer potential patients to a local organ donor organization.

Overall, this study highlights the important role of the ED in organ donation. Future studies are needed to address knowledge gaps about organ donation to improve organ donor rates. Click here to read the full article.

This post was uploaded by Evan Formosa (@EvanFormosa).


  1. 1.
    Miller LD, Gardiner SK, Gubler KD. Emergency department referral for organ donation: more organ donors and more organs per donor. The American Journal of Surgery. May 2014:728-734. doi:10.1016/j.amjsurg.2013.12.017
  2. 2.
    Michael GE, O’Connor RE. The Importance of Emergency Medicine in Organ Donation: Successful Donation Is More Likely When Potential Donors Are Referred From the Emergency Department. Academic Emergency Medicine. September 2009:850-858. doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.2009.00472.x
  3. 3.
    McCallum J, Ellis B, Dhanani S, Stiell IG. Solid organ donation from the emergency department – A systematic review. CJEM. August 2019:626-637. doi:10.1017/cem.2019.365

Simon Huang

Simon Huang is a PGY1 FRCP-EM resident at Dalhousie University. He is the Associate Social Media Editor for CJEM and is involved with infographic creation for the CanadiEM website.
- 3 years ago
Alvin is currently a PGY5 in the FRCP EM program at McMaster University. He serves as Director of Design for CanadiEM and has interests in knowledge translation and health innovation.
- 2 months ago