The impact of organ donation specialists on consent rate in challenging organ donation conversations

Sam Radford, Rohit D’costa, Helen Opdam, Mark McDonald, Daryl Jones, Michael Bailey, Rinaldo Bellomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Consent rates for organ donation conversations (ODCs) vary. We hypothesised that a simple grading system could identify challenging ODCs. We further hypothesised that challenging ODCs would have higher consent rates when conducted by ODC specialists. Objectives: We aimed to study the utility of a grading system for ODCs and test the hypothesis that any training effect would be associated with improved consent rates in ODCs graded as most challenging. Methods: We stratified 2017 Australian DonateLife Audit aggregate consent and donation discussion data into four ODC grades based on Australian Organ Donor Register (AODR) status and person first raising the topic of organ donation. Grade I: “yes” present on AODR and family-raised organ donation; Grade II: “yes” present on AODR, and clinician-raised organ donation; Grade III: no registration on AODR but family-raised organ donation; and Grade IV: no registration on AODR, and clinician-raised organ donation. Results: Grade I ODCs were uncommon 7.7% (109/1420), with a consent rate of 95.4% (104/109). Grade IV ODCs were frequent (60.4%, 857/1420), with a consent rate of 41.4% (355/857). However, in Grade IV ODCs, organ donation specialist consent rate was 53.5% (189/353), significantly greater than for other trained staff at 33.1% (88/266) (P < 0.005; odds ratio [OR], 2.33; 95% CI, 1.68– 3.24) or untrained requestors at 32.8% (78/238; P < 0.005; OR, 2.36; 95% CI. 1.68–3.33). Conclusion: The likelihood of consent can be predicted using readily available variables. This allows prospective identification of Grade IV ODCs, which carry low but potentially modifiable likelihood of consent. Involving donation specialists was associated with more consents for organ donation when applied retrospectively to Australian audit data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalCritical Care and Resuscitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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