Organ donation after trauma: A 30-year review.

Document Type


Publication Date



Surgery, Trauma & Acute Care Surgery

Journal Title

J Trauma Acute Care Surg

MeSH Headings

Adult, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Organ Transplantation, Registries, Retrospective Studies, Tissue and Organ Procurement, Wounds and Injuries


BACKGROUND: Over the past 30 years, the demographics, clinical characteristics, and management of trauma patients have changed dramatically. During this same period, the organ donor population has also changed. The interactions between these two demographic shifts have not been examined in a systematic way. We hypothesize that trauma victims continue to be an important source of organs. We set out to systematically examine traumatic donors in an attempt to identify opportunities to increase organ recovery and quality.

METHODS: In this retrospective analysis, we compared trauma donors (TDs) and non-TDs (NTDs) in the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients standard analysis files, a clinical data set collected by the Organ Procurement Transplant Network on all solid organ transplant candidates, donors, and recipients in the United States since 1987.

RESULTS: Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients contained data on 191,802 deceased donors. The percentage of TDs decreased from 55.3% in 1987 to 35.8% in 2016 (p < 0.001) primarily due to a steady increase in NTDs. Trauma donors are younger and have fewer comorbidities while the percentage of donors who were public health service high risk or who underwent donation after cardiac death were clinically similar. The TDs produce more organs/donor (3.5 vs. 2.4, p < 0.001), are more likely to yield an extrarenal organ, and exhibit lower (better) Kidney Donor Risk Index scores, a predictor of graft longevity. These better outcomes are maintained after stratifying by age.

CONCLUSION: Over the past 30 years, the number of NTDs has increased much more than the number of TDs. However, TDs remain a critically important organ donor source, yielding more organs per donor, better quality kidneys, and a higher likelihood of extrarenal organs. Potential causes, such as improved resuscitation protocols, should be examined in the future.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Retrospective review, level III.



First Page


Last Page