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The recent task force document regarding organ donation in the UK may raise concerns among paediatricians. While the document should act as a clarion call to the National Health Service (NHS) to facilitate the provision of organs from dead donors and either save or improve the quality of the lives of those in irreversible organ failure, there is no mention in the document of donation in the child population. Unfortunately, this is not because the impasse in adult donation is unknown in paediatrics, but perhaps hints at the even greater efforts that significant changes in paediatric organ donor rates will require. Can we, however, seize the opportunity afforded by the focus on donation that the task force will generate to improve the situation as regards children? This review cannot address all aspects of donation but will highlight areas in which there may be opportunities to optimise provision of organs to severely ill and dying children.
In the UK children die and suffer ill health in situations where organ transplantation offers a realistic treatment option. As in adult medicine, the number of children who would benefit from organ transplantation far exceeds the number of donors.1 2 While seat belts, cycle helmets and improvements in paediatric intensive care have led to a decrease in the number of children dying from severe traumatic brain injury,3 there can be little doubt that opportunities for donation are missed.
Although the UK population is supportive of organ donation,4,–,6 donation rates remain among the lowest in Europe.7 Recognition of this led to the Depar t ment of Healt h ( DH ) Organ Donor Task Force (ODTF)8 which suggested a 50% increase over 5 years in adult donation was realistic. While the potential donor pool is very different, …