Medical experts gathered on Friday at a meeting organized by the Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center to consider the possibility of expanding donor sources to alleviate the insufficient supply of donated organs caused by the growing demand for transplants.
The focus of the summit was the possible expansion of the current pool of donors from brain-dead and living donors to include donations made following cardiac or circulatory death (DCD) and non-heart-beating donations (NHBD).
Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the chairman of the department of traumatology at National Taiwan University Hospital, said that although the nation currently has only the two organ donation sources, acquiring organs from DCD or NHBD patients is complicated because blood clots develop in organs just five minutes after the heart ceases to beat, rendering them unusable.
Ko suggested allowing surgeons to remove organs from potential donors after the heart stops beating for two minutes, saying that “from a transplant surgeon’s point of view, a two-minute wait is undoubtedly preferred [to a five-minute one].”
However, the preliminary consensus arrived at at the meeting was that the protocol for NHBD stipulates that a five-minute wait is required after the heart stops beating.
Lee Po-chang (李伯璋), the chairman of the center, said that although removing organs in a shorter period of time guarantees their usability, it could inadvertently give the impression that surgeons are not doing everything they can to resuscitate their patients.
Lee added that the experts advised that NHBD be performed only if the death of the potential donor is considered imminent by at least two specialist doctors, the patient cannot be revived through any known medical technique and the patient’s family has consented to ceasing life support measures.