Ellen Sheehy talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Emerging Research Front Paper in the field of
Economics & Business.
Article: Estimating the number of potential organ
donors in the United States Authors:
E;Conrad, SL;Brigham, LE;Luskin, R;Weber, P;Eakin,
M;Schkade, L;Hunsicker, L
Journal: N ENGL J MED, 349 (7): 667-674, AUG 14 2003
Addresses: Assoc Organ Procurement Org, 1364 Beverly
Rd,Suite 100, Mclean, VA 22101 USA.
Assoc Organ Procurement Org, Mclean, VA 22101 USA.
Univ Iowa, Iowa Donor Network, Iowa City, IA USA.
Washington Reg Transplant Consortium, Falls Church, VA
(addresses have been truncated.)
Why do you think your paper is highly
Our paper represents an important contribution to the field of organ
donation in that it provided a credible estimate of the size of the
brain-dead organ donor pool in the United States based on the gold standard
methodology, review of hospital charts, from a large sample of 30+ organ
procurement organizations. Understanding how many potential donors exist on
an annual basis is critical to assessing system performance and developing
strategies for improvement.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
"It was a privilege to coordinate
this multi-site study that involved the
cooperation and efforts of 35 organ
procurement organizations across the
We used a proven methodology, but were able to gather data from a much
broader sample than previous studies.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in
In addition to estimating the size of the potential donor pool (from
brain-dead donors), we also showed that the majority of potential donors
are in a small fraction of all US hospitals, which has important
implications for focusing organ procurement organization efforts to educate
How did you become involved in this research and were
any particular problems encountered along the way?
I have been working to increase the supply of organ donors for more than 15
years. It was a privilege to coordinate this multi-site study that involved
the cooperation and efforts of 35 organ procurement organizations across
Where do you see your research leading in the
Questions remain regarding whether the supply of brain-dead donors is being
affected by changes in clinical practice surrounding end-of-life care and
brain death declaration. In addition, to date there has been no similar
methodology to estimate the size of the pool of potential donors who are
not declared brain-dead, rather eligible as donors after cardiac death.
Developing this methodology will be extremely difficult and will require
input from numerous clinical experts.
Do you foresee any social or political implications for
Our estimates do suggest that the current waiting lists for organs are not
likely to be satisfied with the existing supply of brain-dead organ donors.
Ellen Sheehy, M.P.P.M., M.A.R.
Newtown, MA, USA
KEYWORDS: SOLID ORGANS; PROCUREMENT; TRANSPLANTATION; DONATION;