Burns and organ donation? Compatible?


Have you ever assumed burns patients are not suitable for organ and tissue donation?

Did you know 1400 people around Australia are currently waiting for a transplant?

Organ donation conversations are crucial, not only to save and improve the lives of transplant recipients, but empower patients and their families during end of life (EoL) planning.

The National consensus statement for end-of-life care and associated best practice standards, highlight the importance of identification of all potential organ donors through routine EoL referrals to DonateLife and the skilled conversations with families that follow.  In collaboration with DonateLife, ED and ICU staff can provide families with timely, accurate information to empower them to make an informed and enduring organ donation decision.

For patients with burns or complications from burns that are deemed futile, DonateLife should be consulted for exploration of donation suitability.  The following two case studies show the varied presentations that could offer donation potential:

  • A 63 year old woman with 12% TBSA circumferential burns to her lower limbs with sepsis and multiorgan dysfunction. Futility was determined during her 38 day ICU admission, with family support she donated her lungs successfully to a grateful recipient.
  • A 50 yo female suffering 60% burns in a house fire with OOHCA with unknown downtime. Post debridement in theatre she demonstrated fixed dilated pupils, she was declared brain dead the following day with a Nuclear medicine scan.  Her family supported donation of both her kidneys to two recipients.

Author: Kate Hicks and Rebecca Schrale

Acknowledgements: DonateLife Victoria


Kate Hicks is a Donation Specialist Nursing Coordinator working for DonateLife Tasmania.

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