Variability in deceased donor care in Canada: a report of the Canada-DONATE cohort study Academic Article uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: Canadian donor management practices have not been reported. Our aim was to inform clinicians and other stakeholders about the range of current practices. METHODS: This prospective observational cohort study enrolled consecutive, newly consented organ donors from August 1 2015 to July 31 2018 at 27 academic and five community adult intensive care units in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Research staff prospectively recorded donor management data. Provincial organ donation organizations verified the organs donated. We formally compared practices across provinces. RESULTS: Over a median collection period of eight months, 622 potential donors were classified at baseline as having neurologic determination of death (NDD donors; n = 403) or circulatory death (DCD donors; n = 219). Among NDD donors, 85.6% underwent apnea testing (rarely with carbon dioxide insufflation), 33.2% underwent ancillary testing, and subsequent therapeutic hypothermia (34-35°C) was rare. Neurologic determination of death donors were more hemodynamically unstable with most having received vasopressin and norepinephrine infusions, with a large majority having received high-dose corticosteroids and intravenous thyroxine. Among DCD donors, 61.6% received corticosteroids, and 8.9% received thyroxine. Most donors did not receive lung-protective ventilation strategies. Invasive procedures after donation consent included bronchoscopy (71.7%), cardiac catheterization (NDD donors only; 21.3%), and blood transfusions (19.3%). Physicians ordered intravenous antemortem heparin for 94.8% of DCD donors. The cohort donated 1,629 organs resulting in 1,532 transplants. Case selection, death determinations, and hormone, nutrition and heparin practices all varied across provinces. CONCLUSION: These study findings highlight areas for knowledge translation and further clinical research. Interprovincial discrepancies will likely pose unique challenges to national randomized trials. TRIAL REGISTRATION: (NCT03114436); registered 10 April, 2017.


  • D’Aragon, Frédérick
  • Lamontagne, Francois
  • Cook, Deborah
  • Dhanani, Sonny
  • Keenan, Sean
  • Chassé, Michaël
  • English, Shane
  • Burns, Karen
  • Frenette, Anne Julie
  • Ball, Ian
  • Boyd, John Gordon
  • Masse, Marie-Hélène
  • Breau, Ruth
  • Akhtar, Aemal
  • Kramer, Andreas
  • Rochwerg, Bram
  • Lauzier, François
  • Kutsogiannis, Demetrios James
  • Ibrahim, Quazi
  • Hand, Lori
  • Zhou, Qi
  • Meade, Maureen

publication date

  • August 2020